|Honey Bee busy at work|
At least a third of global crop output depends on insect pollination, largely by bees. The massive contribution of the bees to our well-being is largely unknown to the public. These humble servants work endlessly and quietly for no recognition or money - they pollinate apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, cucumbers and most fruits, berries, and spices. For a more complete list of the crops they pollinate, click here.
The numbers of bees have dramatically reduced in Europe and the US since the 1960s. However, in the last decade the losses have increased exponentially, and the problems have also reached China, Japan and certain African countries. In certain areas of China the problem is so severe that farmers are forced to pollinate their crops by hand.
|Hand pollination in the Sichuan province of China|
|Up in the trees - human pollinators in China|
Photo: Li Junsheng/ImagineChina
In the US the average annual losses of bees have been reported to be around 35% since 2007 - an alarming number. There is now talk about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). As it is only recently recognized as a major problem, research is just starting to deal with it and the results are inconclusive. Most likely there is a variety of factors working together - but most of them related to humans - some suggested causes are use of pesticides, malnutrition due to monoculture diet, loss of genetic diversity, genetically modified crops, use of antibiotics, mite attacks and electromagnetic radiation.
The honey bee is nature's work horse, and we took it for granted.
-E.O. Wilson, renowned biologist
Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people.-Achim Steiner, Executive Director of United Nations Environmental Program
In Norway today we have around 3000 bee-keepers - most of them work on a hobby basis. In July this year, I went to visit the bees who make the honey I eat. The man who owns the bee farm is Per - he graciously invited me to come along to his bee farm in the countryside. Here I will show you some pictures from my visit to the bees.
|The honey bee farm - in the forest beyond the field|
|The honey bee farm - house|
|The honey production unit|
|Going to work - properly dressed|
|Per and I|
|Preparing the smoke to smoke out the bees|
|Ready to use|
|Preparing to take out the frames|
|Taking out a frame|
|Preparing a sheet for honey release|
|A machine for loosening up the frame and the honey|
|The Set Up: Honey tumbler machine|
|The honey frame tumbler machine|
|Tumbling in progress|
|Fresh honey pouring out|
And finally, a short video from the pouring of fresh honey:
Here are a couple of articles worth reading:
- Decline of honey bees a global phenomenon
- Einstein was right - honey bee collapse threatens global food security