A friend of mine had trouble guessing what kind of livestock I was thinking of adding, even with lots of hints.  When she finally got to bees, she claimed they weren’t livestock. I’ll defer to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service on this. They consider bees as other livestock, so I’ll go along with that.

I’ve had an interest in bees for several years, and have been following bee issues–particularly Colony Collapse Disorder–with interest. Although definitive explanations of CCD have not yet been agreed upon, the best information available suggest it is due to two causes: overstressed bees in industrial agriculture being treated with a new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. (See this Sierra Club letter for a little more info on this issue.) I’m sure I’ll write later about these issues. Another problem is a bee pest that has become a major problem in the past few decades, the Varroa mite. More about that, later too. For now, I’ll just say that a non-industrial beehive called a top-bar hive appears to reduce this problem. In short, industrial agriculture has created its own crisis, both with the chemicals used and methods of beekeeping that stress bees and encourage mites.

Fortunately, small-scale beekeeping is on the rise, especially in urban areas. I expect to join the ranks soon. For now, enjoy the picture of this lovely lady I photographed this morning as she busily worked the cluster of leek flowers I expect to produce seeds (thanks to her help) for next year’s leek crop. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)