Whole Life Magazine

April / May 2017

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Page 9 of 43

city of angels By Maryam Henein THE BUZZ ON THE BEES 10 Years Later I t's hard to believe an entire decade has already passed since beekeeper David Hackenberg fi rst sounded the alarm on bee losses in what would became known as "Colony Collapse Dis- order." For fi ve years, George Langworthy and I documented this phenomenon worldwide and eventually created the fi lm Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. The bees have opened my eyes to so many things, including the perils of our food supply. Documentaries usually have a shelf life but I tell people that our fi lm is still alive because the bees are unfortunately still dying. Today, the systemic pesticides in- volved in CCD, are not only killing honey bees, but also native bees, birds, butter- fl ies, bats, and earthworms. They are in our waterways, soil, and brains. Generat- ing billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies, these nicotine-based neuro- toxins — the most popularly used in the world — are now also ruining the Barrier Reef. Research fi nds these poisons dam- age sea urchin DNA and suppress the immune systems of crabs. To give you a sense of their harm, they're now being compared to DDT. Despite the continued devastation and fuzzy future of the Environmental Protec- tion Agency under the Trump Administra- tion, I'd argue that honey bees are on the forefront of our consciousness more than ever before. Much awareness has been raised since 2007. "Urban beekeeping has taken off as a result of the bee cri- sis because people have a great concern and love for honey bees," says co-director George Langworthy, who has been res- cuing honey bee colonies threatened with extermination for the past seven years. "Beekeeping keeps me in direct contact with the natural world and gets me away from my computer. I like doing something tangible to help our ecosystem and the environment, and the honey is an added bonus." "[Today], becoming an urban beekeeper is the hip thing to do," adds Paul Hekimian, Director of HoneyLove, a non-prof- it conservation organization with a mission to protect the honey bees by educating the community and inspiring new urban beekeepers. Rob and Chelsea McFarland were fi rst inspired to create the nonprofi t after watching Vanishing of the Bees. The husband and wife team, along with councilmembers Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl, were instrumental in getting Los Angeles City Council to unanimously approve a backyard beekeeping ordi- nance in October 2015. To date HoneyLove has hundreds of members. Along with many other metropolises, Los Angeles legaliza- tion of beekeeping has allowed for a great number of colonies to thrive in the city and pollinate local ecosystems. Last I heard, honey bees were doing better in the cities than in the countryside due to the poisons in the monocultures. And since bees pollinate one in every three bites of the (real) food we eat, Los Angeles has also seen a blossoming organic gardening and permaculture movement. "The past decade has seen a massive shift towards food security through the simple paradigm-changing act of garden- ing," explains Jill Volat founding director of the urban farming non- profi t, The Edible Apartment. "'Urban farming' known a couple generations ago as Victory Garden- ing from post-WWII days, has had a resurgence in part due to econom- ics and the rise of food deserts, but also because of an acute awareness — across all demographics — of the dangers of ingesting pesticide-treated, GMO commodities disguised as 'food,'" says Volat, who also has her own edible garden design business for 12 years called The Farmista, and teaches at three school gardens. Meanwhile, Volat has witnessed this fi rsthand with clients, who want to invest in their health through organic gardening at home, and in her nonprofi t where donors and volunteers from across the world come together to build community-style urban farms. Clients are asking for hives on their property, or at the very least, requesting pollinator-friendly companion plants for their vegetable gardens. Larry Santoyo, Program Director of The Permaculture Acad- emy and Senior Planner of Earthfl ow Designs has also seen in- terest in urban "homesteading" and gardening triple over the past six to ten years. "As we start to understand the importance of biodiversity, homeowners and citizen groups everywhere Photo: Mina Shalaby 10 wholelifetimes.com

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