Sunday, March 23, 2014

If you love Bees...

 If you love bees... or eating food in general (without bees there would be almost nothing to eat, except maybe Soylent Green), then here's something you need to know about.

The bees are disappearing.  Even The Doctor knew it was important.  As weird as they are, bees aren't actually aliens (probably), but rather are a vital part of our ecosystem.  Not an ecosystem, but our as in the Human ecosystem that we depend on for survival.  Bees make the plants go happy (reproduce) which in turn participates to our breathing and eating abilities.  There are places in the world without bees, and they suffer.  It is unlikely that the amount of physical labour involved in living without bees could produce enough calories to sustain the population needed to produce that labour.

So basically, no bees quickly leads to no humans, or very few of us surviving, probably not you or me.  Even if we were only to loose the plants requiring direct bee intervention to stimulate their sexlife, then the other plants, the ones that don't need bees for all or any of their pollination would suffer.  Out of those plants we eat (or can eat) as humans, many of the ones that do not rely on bees, rely on human labour.  So reduction in food, leads to reduction in population, leads to a reduction of human labour... which will mean less food...  On top of that, the plants that don't require bees, do require plants that require bees for long term survival.  For example, bigger plants protect smaller ones from extreme weather and capture (and slow the release of) water, which limits the extremes the smaller plants need to endure.  Smaller plants die off quicker, creating better soil conditions, but they also have lovely root systems that are good for reducing erosion, protecting the soil from extreme temperature fluctuations... and so on ad infinitum.  No bees means a good chunk of that sustainable system is lost, which puts more stress on the rest of the system, which soon leads to less food for humans... It's more complex than many of these 'what if there weren't any bees' theories take into account.  We can extend the time humans survive through chemicals, however, it appears that this technique only works as a short term solution, and actually reduces the capacity of the land to support food growth over the long term... and, in theory, long term survival of our species should be important to us.

We need to do something about this.

Here's something:

This is a beehive.  What's really neat about it, and why it captured my interest is that it combines really old and really new technology together to create something more accessible and functional than the modern or ancient technology can do on it's own.

It's called an Open Source Beehive and it's plan is to provide a make your own, printable top bar beehive.  You use this mighty router table printing thing and special, bee friendly plywood to make a flat-pack hive that fits together like a piece of Ikea furniture.

Now I've been wanting a beehive like this for years.  I've even started building (not one, but) two.  Only things came up and the wood I had ready got used for other things.  It takes many tens of hours to make one of these things if you don't have the skills or tools (or in my case, neither).  So being able to 'print' a beehive in about half an hour or so, is fantastic.  I just need to find a router printer thing big enough.

The other half of this project is to monitor the health of the hive using a sensor.  This part doesn't interest me as much, I don't have wifi and cell coverage is poor here.  But for those of you who are interested in this, it attaches to the beehive and tells your smart phone (something else I don't have) if there are any changes in air quality or hive temperature.  It's really useful if you aren't talking to your bees daily.

This open source beehive project is currently in the crowd funding stage.  Basically they ask people to donate money if you believe in this project and want to support it.  You can donate one dollar or one million... they probably accept euros and yen as well.  If you go to the link and look at the right, at different donation marks, you get a reward.  The theory behind crowd funding is a lot like knitting.  Every stitch counts towards a sweater, every dollar donated adds up and make the project happen.

My motive for sharing this isn't just to rant about the importance of bees.  There is a method to my madness:

First, the crowdfunding only has a few days left and they aren't quite at their goal yet.  Even if you don't donate, maybe you could mention it to your bee loving friends.

Second, I'm searching for people in the local area interested in working together to make some of these hives, with the theory that if we buy in bulk, it gets the price down and when the bees arrive, we can support each other with advice and stuff.


Anonymous said...

I have a book of European insects, with drawn pictures. It has been better than internet when I want to know "what it is". I found many wild bees have homes in the ground holes. Honey bees needs a lot of humans help in Finland because its so cold here. The beehive in the video could be better. Now there is holes in the roof, reducing hives lifetime if it is raining often. A honeymaker, or a person who have had hives, could have an opinion how practical this hive is: is it good if honey and beewax is wanted. But they made this model for their scientifical purposes and it is fine in it. The machine they used is great and it could be used for making parts for spinning wheels etc. Flies can pollute plants too but when they are full they just enjoy of the summer. Bees just are more diligent. Bumblebees are the bees we see commonly at summer. I know they dont sting me easily, I have even let them to sit down on me sometimes and it is exciting.
But usually I try to blow them away - waving arms works too. And running...

The idea of this kind of beehives is ingenious! Keeping honey bees can be more popular in future, when this kind of hives are sold in markets and gas stations.


Linda said...

This is amazing. Greetings from Montreal.