BEE CONSERVATION in France & the US
It’s summer time in the US and in most of Europe. With it, Summer brings flowers and the buzzing bee – fueling my ever present interest in bees and spurring me to write this post – For Defining France this is our second post on our valued friend, the HONEY BEE.
NOTE: Did you know that France has more than 70,000 bee keepers!?
Out of the 100 crop species that provide us with 90% of our food, 70% are pollinated by bees (source). It’s that simple.
Bees are the primary initiators of reproduction among plants, as they transfer pollen from the male stamens to the female pistils.
Since 2006, the population of bees has declined considerably (source). Pesticides, disease, parasites, and poor weather due to global warming have played a major role in this worrying decline.
In probably all of the world France’s environmental protection agency bans almost in entirety the use of neonicotinoids (which are pesticides blamed for the massive decline in honeybees) –putting France in the forefront of awareness regarding the importance of bees.
There are many many threats to the honeybees in addition to the pesticides, like the giant Asian hornet and a disease carrying mite called varroa. The honey bee school located in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris says that 30 percent of France’s bee colonies have perished in the past 15 years because of these infringements on the colony.
-BEES NEED HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS TO PRODUCE HONEY –
So before you grab your RAID: poisons can be even stronger when store-shelf insecticides are used by home gardeners. So provide a healthy environment as organic as possibly for our bee friends!!
Bees are foragers and the outcome honey is the product of that. Depending on where the bees have to acquire pollen dictates the seasons honey. Some honeys may be darker in color ..if the bee is collecting from the chestnut woods of the Montagne Noire or Cevennes area, but if ample farm fields are full of sunflowers and other flowers the color will be more of a pale ale and taste will vary as well from mixed flower honey to different nectar’s or tastes from the chestnut trees. Chestnut honey is stronger and less sweet – favored by many! The bottles of honey show the wide range of color depending on were the honey bee is foraging.
Below is a bee keeper observing ancient sedentary beehives called ‘bruscs’, which are dug out in chestnut trees and covered with slate slabs. Similar, but newer hives are in Cevennes area of France and are still used today.NOTE:
The honeybee population in the United States is now less than half of what it was at the end of World War II. Driven largely by industrial farming practices that came in full force after the war – mass use of pesticides – in particular neonicotinoids
The Cévennes are a range of mountains in south-central France where a National Park is also located. In this area many chestnut trees grow making it an idyllic area for hives to flourish.
NOTE: One great thing about bee keepers using chestnut logs is that this tree is rich in sap with tannins, which repel parasites and fungi – a key destroyer of the hive. Pesticides are not in abundance here, therefore, increasing the life of the bee colonies.
After the chestnut tree dies the keepers preserve the outer trunk and wait for the heartwood to rot away creating natural hive. This is called ruche-tronc. Chestnut trees have been in France since the year 1000 therefore through history….tried and true some things have not changed since the first beekeepers started using this tree for natural hives!
This process of utilizing the tree provides a natural home for bees with built in protection. It is a start and a continued tradition to preserve our life line, the pollinators.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, in spite of a U.S. Department of Agriculture report warning about the dangers of the bee colony collapse.
Common sense actions can restore and protect the world’s bees. Here’s a strong start:
- Ban the seven most dangerous pesticides.
- Protect pollinator health by preserving wild habitat.
- Restore ecological agriculture.
In 2018: the U.S. EPA is assessing these insecticides and will finalize regulatory action by the end of 2018 — Europe has already banned these type of pesticides!
For a good summer read on bees, take a peek at The Hive.
You may also want to read a more serious book on what would happen if we lost our precious bees: Bless the Bees
If you are interested in more organic bee hive homes, please call us at RF ANTIQUES and discover the cork made bee hives we carry from Portugal. (251) 928-8336
Some pictures are from Pinterest and the image sheet from the Internet while information with stats comes from Green Peace, UTube & other articles on the preservation of bee colonies.