Image credit: Eat The View
First Family Joins Bee Keeping Trend
I went to pick up my bee hives this weekend - and the supplier looked exhausted. He was out of veils, smokers, hive stands and even bees. It seems many people are rallying around our favorite pollinators in their time of need - after all, rumors of the return of Colony Collapse Disorder are rife. Now the bees have a new and powerful ally - the Obamas are taking up bee keeping. Who could have predicted that? Well, we could. Apparently. Back in February, fellow TreeHugger Jeff urged the Obamas to think beyond the veggies - including backyard chickens and bees in the White House garden. Jeff wasn't alone either - the forums over at Eat The View were alive since November with advocates hoping for bee hives on the First Lawn (although there was some discussion as to the legality of bee keeping in DC). Anyhow, it looks like all this wishful thinking has paid off, at least if a press release from the Honey Bee Conservancy is anything to go by:
"The inclusion of two beehives in the White House garden sends a very powerful message about the importance of bees to our food supply," says Karen Wasmer, a mentor to new beekeepers who became a beekeeper to aid in the pollination of her organic crops (http://www.kwapiary.com). "I look forward to mentoring more new beekeepers," says Ms. Wasmer, who offers classes to beekeepers as young as age 10 through the Northeast Florida Honey Bee Association (www.nelfhba.com).
"Local beekeeping is the vibrant point where environmentalism, gardening and the local food movement intersect," says Guillermo Fernandez of The Honeybee Conservancy, a charitable environmental organization working to protect bees. "Nearly one-third of the United State's crops rely on bees for pollination, yet close to one-fourth of the nation's commercial honey bees have vanished in recent years. Americans in cities from New York to Los Angeles, have flocked to the idea of small-scale beekeeping as a way to help save our bees and—like the Obamas—to pollinate their crops and generate some free local honey in the process!"
Apparently enrollment in bee keeping classes is up, and if my supplier's exhausted demeanor was anything to go by - this is one business that is weathering the recession well. And that's a good thing for all of us. And if the Obamas' personal commitment to bees can spread to political action to help save our furry, flying friends, then that will be a giant leap for the sustainability of our food systems.
More on the White House Garden
White House Organic Farm (video)
White House Farm Coming Soon
Veggie Garden Coming to White House Lawn
More on Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder
Blogger Writes about Colony Collapse Disorder in his Own Back Yard
Saving the Bees
Photo Essay: Bees and Bee Keepers in Crisis