The staggering decline of honey bee colonies has alarmed experts across the United States, but an unconventional apiculturist in California thinks he has found a way to save them.
Michael Thiele has championed an approach he calls the “rewilding” of honeybees, allowing them to live as they did for millions of years — in natural log hives high above the ground.
“We can do this very, very simple thing — return bees into their natural nest environment, into their natural biosphere,” said German-born Thiele at his home in Sebastopol, California. “If we lose them due to human-induced mass extinction, will there be a tomorrow?”
Thiele’s method consists of hollowing out logs and strapping them high on tree trunks to mimic bees’ hives before they were domesticated. He also sometimes suspends them from barn rafters or perches them high on wooden tables for a similar effect.
Honey bees are critical to the planet’s ecosystem because they pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, according to U.S. government reports.
Last winter, U.S. beekeepers lost almost 40% of their colonies, according to a report this year by the Bee Informed Partnership, a group of industry participants.
It was the worst winter die-off in more than a decade.
Wild bee populations are declining too, but researchers found in 2015 that wild bees from around Ithaca, New York recovered from the introduction of the deadly “varroa mite” in the 1990s while domesticated bees did not.
Thiele also says domesticated bees are more vulnerable because they are raised using smoke and chemicals and fed sugar water, which he claims is bad for their health.
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#Bees #Technology #Beekeepers #HowCloseAreWe #Science
Courtesy By Reuters
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