I’ve started keeping bees a couple of years ago. I did this mostly in order to offset the very heavy time investment I have in technology. It forced me to “get outside”, as people say. I’ll add a list of bee keeping projects I’ve worked on below. Of course I joined some of my tech know- how with my new hobby, beekeeping technology, so to say. Before I show you some projects, let’s talk about a couple of things I think are “myths” around beekeeping.
a) World wide honey bee extinction
First off, there is no world wide honey bee extinction issue as you often see in the press. There is, however, a world wide insect extinction issue, which is on a much broader scale. On the side of the bees, the problem exists with wild bees, and not honey bees. In turn, this means that by keeping honey bees, you are not saving the planet. At least not in the way you think you are. Here’s a couple of things to think about:
b) Honey bees are dying out
The bees that need saving are (currently) not “honey bees”, but “wild bees”. The honey bees you know are a highly adapted “industrial animal”, specifically bred for high yield and easy control. These specific animals, which you will most likely care for, rarely survive in the wild and are generally dependent on human support. Also, they are highly invasive, and often are direct competition for resources to wild bees. I just want to make sure here that if your motivation to keep honey bees is to support nature: It might not be the very best way to do it. Think of it like this: If you take a modern milk cow, without human support, and let it lose in a forest, how long will it last?
c) Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder, in very short terms, means “My bees just left their hive for no explainable reason and vanished”. This has gone through the media, and even though a lot of theories exist, none are 100% conclusive. Personally, I think a couple of factors are involved and interlinked that lead to this. BUT, as bad as it is, the way we have engineered bees to act up to today, we can very easily bring back the bee population from even a large event like this. Please keep in mind when researching this topic: Losing hives through winter is normal, and the cycle of bee life means that you can split a hive into multiple new ones every spring. A lot of drama you may have heard about this is because bee keepers lost their income, not because honey bees are in danger per se. Hopefully, modern beekeeping technology can help us to better understand how this can be avoided in the future.
d) No bees = No Pollination
Seems obvious, doesn’t? Sadly, it’s not that easy. First of all, together with a decrease of pollination due to insects dying off, we are also increasing the amount of pollination required worldwide as we need to produce more and more food. As I wrote above, with more insects dying, and wild bees disappearing, fixing the missing “pollination power” with honey bees will also affect the wild species out there. If you start considering honey bees as an “industrial pollinator”, we might be able to supplement or increase the pollination power as a whole. But quite possibly we will speed up the eradication of less supported and strong species.
Follow my little sensor project here: <Release pending>