Commercial and backyard beekeeping in our country is oppressed by the same philosophies and protocols of our genetically modified seed and crop monocultures, which masquerade as healthful food farming. Genetically modified seeds—sown in dead and toxic soils, fed petroleum fertilizers and laced with pesticides and fungicides as they grow—are laid out in Martian landscapes which are hostile to endangered honey bees and pollinators. In fact, if honeybees were left in monocropped acreage for more than approximately two weeks, they would die of starvation. These artificial monocrops masquerading as "natural" food from the earth are then harvested, processed and FDA-approved for our consumption, as is the honey that's made from them. Sound crazy? It is.
Because 85 percent of our food crops are honeybee-pollinated, our survival is directly linked with theirs. Understanding and deconstructing colony collapse disorder within the context of commercial beekeeping and its relevance to backyard beekeeping is essential for our well-being. Commercial honeybees, like commercial livestock, are fed substandard nutrition—genetically modified corn syrup, commercial-grade sugar cane syrup and genetically modified soy derivatives. Would you feed your baby genetically modified soymilk formula and expect the kind of health that results from feeding breast milk? I don't think so.
In a weakened confused state, hyped on sugar and high on drugs, commercial bees are taken to pollinate tainted food sources and then packed up and shrink-wrapped, a thousand hives per flatbed truck, and shipped up to 2,000 miles to pollinate yet another commercial crop for our consumption. Both honey and wax from the commercial industry have been shown to be laced with pesticides and genetically modified genes, as have the bees themselves!
Imagine that you are a guardian, not a keeper; a steward, not an owner; a recipient of gifts of honey, not an entitled consumer, and you'll get the idea.
Palika Benton is a regenerative permaculture educator and designer from Santa Cruz.