Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2013

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Page 25 of 43

ee B Buzzworthy urban beekeeping initiatives soothe some of the sting of Colony Collapse Disorder Change the icture your Thanksgiving plate: for most of us, it would make the Pilgrims proud—heaped high with turkey (or tofu), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans and onions. Now envision the same plate with only turkey or tofu! Not quite as appetizing? You may want to start paying more attention to the realities of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that threatens to put these bee-pollinated foods—and more than 80 others—in grave shortage. Whole Foods Market created a print visual in June when it published a powerful before-and-after photo showing just how limited our food choices would be without help from pollinators. For the experiment, employees in one of its stores removed 237 of 453 products from produce shelves—including apples, onions, carrots, cucumbers, kale and many more—all of which couldn't exist without pollination. These are grim images, but they may become reality if CCD continues at the current rate—the total number of domestic managed honeybee colonies has dropped in half since the 1940s. The problems often start with the pathogens foulbrood or Nosema ceranae, which leave a colony weak and vulnerable. Add the harmful varroa mite, increased pesticide use and poor bee nutrition (thanks to the use of high fructose corn syrup by commercial beekeepers), and you've got a perfect storm. And as documented in such films as Vanishing of the Bees and Queen of the Sun, the plight affects not just bees but also their keepers, who are faced with the imminent loss of livelihood. Since bees account for one in every three bites of food, CCD could be deadly serious. Local beekeeper and Learning Garden master David King confirms, "We really can't afford the loss of the honeybee." GIMME SHELTER McFarland and her husband Rob were inspired to start HoneyLove back in 2011, when they learned how to rescue a swarm of bees that had descended on their garden. "They say that 'You don't choose the bees, the bees choose you,'" laughs McFarland. "It was an awesome and eye-opening experience. We often say that the garden was the gateway to beekeeping for us." Since then, HoneyLove has blossomed into a thriving nonprofit with sanctuaries in Topanga and Moorpark—populated with rescued bees that otherwise would have been exterminated—and a third to come near LAX. On the first Sunday of each month, the couple holds an open mentoring session at the Moorpark location, where they by Jen Jones Donatelli 26 wholelifetimesmagazine.com Photos: Adam Novicki/T&A Farms P Thankfully, Whole Foods isn't alone in its efforts; here in L.A., a number of nonprofits and enterprising activists are doing their part to reverse the honeybee disaster. "Bees are dying in the farmlands, and we believe the urban environment is the last refuge of the honeybees," says Chelsea McFarland, co-founder of L.A.-based HoneyLove. "We're trying to create little sanctuaries where they can thrive."

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