Since I posted the article from the bee-farmer who lost 2,150 hives I have been under sustained, highly personal and highly co-ordinated attack from the industry shills, both on the UK beekeeping forum, and also to some extent here.
I am not going to respond to any of the personal attacks which emanate from those we already know are professional industry shills, since they have been doing this for 5 years in the UK and we know who they are.
By way of some light relief and hopefully inspiration, I hope you might enjoy the following passages from the writings of John Muir, the Scottish emigrant who saved most of what natural beauty still survives in California (Yosemite, the redwoods, Muir beach, Muir woods etc). He was an eye-witness to the bee-paradise which existed in the Central Valley before it was destroyed by industrial agriculture, and by 825,000 acres of almond monoculture. It is a vision worth sharing - and maybe points to what will return when pesticide-based, industrial agriculture finally runs into the buffers; which may happen this year as far as the almonds are concerned.
The State was an ecological paradise before the advent of industrial scale farming - and it remains the most productive agricultural area on Earth - because of the year-round abundance of sunshine, water and warmth.
It was also once the most botanically rich and diverse area in the whole of America, but pesticide-based, high input, industrial-scale 'farming' has destroyed 99% of that richness.
When John Muir - the Scottish conservationist - made his famous walk from San Francisco to Yosemite Valley around 1869 - he had to cross the Central Valley - an area which now contains 825,000 acres of Almond monoculture.
This is what he wrote:
- The Yosemite (1912) chapter 1. 'The Range of Light'
"Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that, after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich-furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city.... Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light."
When Muir walked across the Central Valley in 1869 he trod upon a single, uninterrupted bed of wildflowers: 400 miles long by 50 miles wide. It had existed there for thousands and thousands of years. It has now been completely destroyed. Here is another passage from Muir's wonderful essay 'The Bee Pastures':
http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_...hapter_16.aspx (read the whole chapter here - it is superb)
"Wherever a bee might fly within the bounds of this virgin wilderness--through the redwood forests, along the banks of the rivers, along the bluffs and headlands fronting the sea, over valley and plain, park and grove, and deep, leafy glen, or far up the piny slopes of the mountains--throughout every belt and section of climate up to the timber line, bee-flowers bloomed in lavish abundance. Here they grew more or less apart in special sheets and patches of no great size, there in broad, flowing folds hundreds of miles in length--zones of polleny forests, zones of flowery chaparral, stream tangles of rubus and wild rose, sheets of golden compositæ, beds of violets, beds of mint, beds of bryanthus and clover, and so on, certain species blooming somewhere all the year round.
But of late years ploughs and sheep have made sad havoc in these glorious pastures, destroying tens of thousands of the flowery acres like a fire, and banishing many species of the best honey-plants to rocky cliffs and fence-corners, while, on the other hand, cultivation thus far has given no adequate compensation, at least in kind; only acres of alfalfa for miles of the richest wild pasture, ornamental roses and honeysuckles around cottage doors for cascades of wild roses in the dells, and small, square orchards and orange-groves for broad mountain belts of chaparral.
The Great Central Plain of California, during the months of March, April, and May, was one smooth, continuous bed of honey-bloom, so marvelously rich that, in walking from one end of it to the other, a distance of more than 400 miles, your foot would press about a hundred flowers at every step. Mints, gilias, nemophilas, castilleias, and innumerable compositæ were so crowded together that, had ninety-nine per cent. of them been taken away, the plain would still have seemed to any but Californians extravagantly flowery. The radiant, honey-ful corollas, touching and overlapping, and rising above one another, glowed in the living light like a sunset sky--one sheet of purple and gold, with the bright Sacramento pouring through the midst of it from the north, the San Joaquin from the south, and their many tributaries sweeping in at right angles from the mountains, dividing the plain into sections fringed with trees."
So, California - was once a bee-paradise (though the honeybee was only introduced in the 1840s) - for native bees and bumblebees. Contrast the above eye-witness description with the pesticide-drenched monoculture of the central valley today.
The original article I posted is an honest and truthful eye-witness account of the experience of one bee-farmer; someone with 40 years of experience of running a 5,000 colony migratory operation. This is his 'hypothesis'; his attempt to make sense of the situation, drawing on his lifetime's knowledge and experience of migratory beekeeping. You don't have to agree with him. You are welcome to pose opposing views, preferably within the bounds of reasonable discussion.
This man knows how to feed and water bees, he knows how to treat for varroa, he knows how to secure and fulfill pollination contracts. I will pass on the various questions about how he feeds, waters, inspects and treats his bees for varroa. I suspect he may be too busy to answer right now, but I will ask him on the off-chance.