Pasadena Now – While bees may be perceived as intimidating sting machines that produce sweet honey, the scientific and beekeeping communities consider them the unsung heroes of the planet. The tiny aerial insects are responsible for pollinating 80% of the world’s plants and without them world would be a much different place.
Pasadena’s flora-and-fauna-rich landscape has cemented itself as a bee friendly environment among local experts and is the perfect home for the Natural Beekeeping Conference that kicks off this weekend, set to feature demonstrations and lectures about all things beekeeping from local and international experts in the field.
“Our conference is geared towards the backyard beekeeper who wants to do things with a more natural twist. We’ve imported the top minds in the natural beekeeping world to come speak,” said conference organizer and Honey Love CEO Chelsea McFarland whose non-profit provides educational outreach and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees.
Pasadena’s bee friendly status is a rarity when compared to worrisome global phenomenon of bee colonies disappearing called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“If you have an amazing garden and want to make it even better, the natural progression is to keep bees. It’s very important to keep known genetics in your urban yard,” said Keith Roberts, President of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and owner of beekeeping retail store The Valley Hive.
“Pasadena was the area to be this year,” said Roberts who went on to say he extracted thousands of pounds of sage honey in the Pasadena/Altadena area alone.
Many factors play a role in possibilities regarding to the disappearance of bee colonies including parasites and pests, pathogens, poor nutrition, and the use of pesticides on plants as the number one cause of speculation according to the USDA.
“Pesticides are always a threat regardless of where the hives are,” said Roberts.
These foreign chemicals tend to do more harm than good due the their artificial properties, in which pollination by managed honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture annually through increased yields and superior-quality harvests, according to the USDA.
“We aren’t seeing colony collapse disorder as much in the city,” said McFarland
Aside from the importance of bees in regards to sustaining a substantial part of life on Earth, they have become specimens of interest to scientists and engineers in fascinating ways.
Dr. Michael Dickinson is a scientist whose lab at Caltech focuses on flight control and how animals transform sensory information into a code that controls motor output and behavior. According to Dickinson, the unique anatomy of bees provides a basis for the development of cutting edge aerial technology in the 21st century.
“These animals are exploiting some of the most exotic flight mechanisms that are available to insects,” said Dickinson in an article published by Caltech. “The knowledge garnered from actual insects start to become important engineering principles by which we design these things,” said Dickinson.
Although urban areas like Pasadena are more sustainable place for bees to thrive, they are still in need of habitats that they can call home and is a simple addition anyone can add to their property with just a small amount of tender love and care.
You don’t have to be a skilled beekeeper to contribute to the well being of bees in your neighborhood.
“We encourage people to put out a swarm box which is something bees can move into. It’s a great thing that people can do who live in the city,” said McFarland who also mentioned the importance of providing basics such as adequate water for bees.
To help promote his all-natural approach, 40 year beekeeper Jerry Dunbar participated in the creation of this video series demonstrating his practices and the …
Husband-and-wife team Rob and Chelsea McFarland are passionate about honeybees and want you to be too. Last year they spearheaded the legalization of urban beekeeping in Los Angeles, published Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives, and now have organized a natural beekeeping conference set for August 19 through 21 in Pasadena, California.