Restoring Beekeeping in the Southwest
Restoring Beekeeping in the Southwest
We demonstrated success in reversing "Africanized" bee behavior, and in preventing Colony Collapse Disorder through natural beekeeping.
We demonstrated success in reversing "Africanized" bee behavior, and in preventing Colony Collapse Disorder through natural beekeeping. Read more
About this project
Did you know every third bite of food you eat can be traced back to a pollinator? How much of our industrialized population survives because of them?
Our project aims to reestablish and demonstrate the importance of industriousness and hard-work ethics while simultaneously solving the problems of Colony Collapse Disorder and Africanized honeybee aggression. Both are the result of taking the easy road to profits in a food industry more concerned with market share than "good food".
Eliminate the occurrence of defensive bee attacks/incidents where Africanized genetics are prevalent. Africanized populations will tend to expand northward as average global temperatures rise. Active management of expanding feral populations by trained beekeepers will be increasingly necessary.
Grow a network of small scale natural beekeepers in the southern USA who are experienced in selecting docile strains of bees for propagation where Africanized populations are present.
Relocalize the production of treatment-free honey among a trained consortium of small scale natural beekeepers.
Create an example of sustainable family scale farming as an economic development strategy with beekeeping and honey production as one of the core elements.
Beekeeping in the Southern portions of the USA typically requires more awareness and observation due to the increased tendency of the bees to be defensive. A hive with a tendency to vigorously protect honey stores with a higher percentage of stings can make beekeeping painful and generally unpleasant. This (coupled with "colony collapse disorder" and easily accessible sweeteners thanks to our food policy) has decimated the number of beekeepers in the Southwest region over the past 75 years or more.
We relocate and collect wild swarms with varying degrees of defensive behavior. Through specific selection strategies and non-invasive queen breeding techniques we have experienced great success in making beekeeping in Southern Arizona a rewarding experience at our home apiary.
In addition, we never feed our bees to take a short cut to honey profits, and frankly, we have never had to despite holding back a percentage of their own raw honey in case conditions call for emergency feeding. This alone results in strong hard working bees. Coupled with encouraging a natural comb (or small cell construction - what bees do naturally) pests and disease are managed effectively by a strong hive without resorting to wax-contaminating chemical-treatments. These two critical factors, along with isolating bees from sources of neonicotenoid classes of pesticides, are what make the small scale beekeeper successful, and why industrialized beekeeping is experiencing such great losses at this time. However, this requires more time and skill to accomplish. It's taken several years of hands-on practice and mentoring with other experts to achieve this. Now it's time to greatly expand our effort to pass on this knowledge to those willing to sacrifice and understand that there are very few shortcuts without serious long-term consequences.
Due to our success we have recently been able to create partnerships with two other farms in Southern Arizona where we have placed bees to continue propagating calm honeybee genetics in Africanized regions as a defensive-behavior management strategy while attempting to relocalize honey production among an experienced base of small scale natural beekeepers.
Our beekeeping ability has now entered a stage requiring more efficiency to build hives, harvest, and package honey for markets in 2013 and beyond. Unless we can become more technologically efficient in how we move bees and honey we will not be able to focus on the education/training goals, or the documentation of the positive effects on the regional wild honeybee population, resulting from correct management by a community of beekeepers.
But wait, that's not all we do! Kara and I manage four breeding flocks of chickens to supply eggs to area restaurants, a food coop, farmer's market and of course direct to neighbors. And yes, we hatch much of the eggs ourselves. Our vegetable gardens are also mostly done between two people and occasional volunteers during the fall and winter that come from all over the country to help and take home a valuable education. Using permaculture concepts we design everything to support other elements within the overall design. Although this project is centered on beekeeping, we also need to free up more time to dedicate towards education, by making other parts of our farm more efficient.
For example we desperately need to implement our latest design for mobile egg laying units that are specific to the desert, and increase the efficiency of our watering system. We also lack a green house to germinate plant starts, and refrigeration to house our harvest, eggs, seed, and comb honey. Currently we time harvest to fit everything into our one extra household refrigerator the day before deliveries, and we move our seedling starts from one location to another to maintain proper growing conditions rather than placing them in a dedicated green house. About half of our vegetable production and landscape is hand-watered and needs to be placed on timed irrigation. All of this adds up to a huge amount of time (about 20-25hrs per week) that will be dedicated elsewhere to increase our capacity to do beekeeping outreach.
Your generosity will at a minimum fund the following to be completed by October 2013:
- Create spaces to house volunteers-in-training to learn the art of natural/recycled wax foundation creation, and natural raw honey production using low energy methods and solar energy.
- Upgrade wild hive relocation equipment to efficiently and quickly remove wild populations from occupied structures owned by people who do not wish to exterminate established colonies or swarms.
- Partner with two pest control companies to offer live removal of wild honeybee populations in urban areas and public lands.
- Outfit "honey truck" to be more efficient and display educational signs about our work.
- Establish cross-state standards among beekeepers for queen selection where Africanized honeybee populations are present or scheduled to arrive at latitudes south of 40 degrees.
- Document breeding project history (including a demonstration video) stretching back to records from 2008 with emphasis on behavior selection for public safety.
- Reduce fear of "Africanized Killer Bees" as described by the media by holding meeting series with county health departments and community organizations through the public library system.
- Certify ReZoNation Farm honey and products as naturally grown.
- Hold two hands-on workshops in late October 2012 and late April 2013 that create awareness of natural beekeeping in arid climates where Africanized populations exist - in partnership with other well-known natural beekeepers.
- Increase presence of natural beekeeping education at regional farmer's markets.
A new generation of beekeeping and farming is on its way, and we have been diligently working on creating cooperative models of beekeeping and honey production in a region that has very particular challenges and advantages. Our vision is to strengthen the health and genetics of honeybees at a regional level by recognizing that honeybees know best what they need.
Please help us reach our goal by clicking the green "Back This Project" button at the top. Thank you!
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