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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder May Be Linked to Pesticides

For the last couple of years I've been regularly reporting on the problem with bees dying in unprecedented numbers and whole colonies collapsing. Go here, here, and here for previous installments in this ongoing story.

The latest news is that it is suspected that a pesticide, known as neonicotinoids, is making the bees much more susceptible to disease. The Independent reports:

A new generation of pesticides is making honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at tiny doses, and may be a clue to the mysterious colony collapse disorder that has devastated bees across the world, the US government's leading bee researcher has found. Yet the discovery has remained unpublished for nearly two years since it was made by the US Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory...

The American study, led by Dr Jeffrey Pettis, research leader at the US government bee lab in Beltsville, Maryland, has demonstrated that the insects' vulnerability to infection is increased by the presence of imidacloprid, even at the most microscopic doses. Dr Pettis and his team found that increased disease infection happened even when the levels of the insecticide were so tiny that they could not subsequently be detected in the bees, although the researchers knew that they had been dosed with it.

While bees on one front are endangered by industrial chemicals, there are some promising developments in the world of beekeeping, which is fast becoming the next wave of interest in the local food movement. It's apparently very hip for restaurants and hotels in NY City to have their own bee colonies on the roof, and then market the honey to the customers. One recent story the NY Times reported that the rural flight of bees closer to the city has brought some unexpected results. In one case it led to Brooklyn bees discovering a maraschino cherry factory as a source of sugar, which packed the honey combs with Red Dye No. 40. 

It's also more common for people in residential areas to keep bees. If you're interested in exploring beekeeping, the Inland Empire Beekeepers Association is offering a class starting February 26. Currently the County does not allow any beekeeping in residential areas, but the City of Spokane does. Here's their link to local zoning and regulations. Once again the County, which should be much more friendly to traditionally rural pursuits is behind the curve.

Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at