Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sweaty Sundays and Vanishing Bees

This morning I finally made it to Yoga in the park, and it was worth every second of the early morning wake up call! The birds were chirping, it was warm with a slight breeze, there was a guy with bongoes, and I pretty much felt any tension melt away in a couple minutes. Something I struggle a lot with is tying my self worth to how busy I am. If I'm not busy, I must be lazy and that must equal I'm useless. And worthless. While I'm aware that's not how it works, it's something I struggle with a lot. Trying to focus on just letting quiet moments happen and enjoy them, not feel compelled to fill every single second with work. This past year has been incredibly challenging to me in that respect(moving across the country, quitting my job to focus on my photography, making my own schedule, decisions, choices). While I am extremely grateful that life has allowed me this opportunity, it comes with it's own challenges. In the end it can only make me stronger but trying to maintain balance throughout it can be frustrating(and rewarding too!). So this yoga class was a nice chance to reset, calm my mind, and just chill. The instructor's assistant was super cute too.

Yesterday was great, I went to the Vegan Expo which was conveniently held down the street from my house. It was quiet small, only taking up the front porch and one room of the building. There was some great granola bar samples from Taste Of Nature, which grows it's ingredients with organic sustainable farming practices. I liked that they only used whole food ingredients in them, and they're sweetened with agave and brown rice syrup. I tried the Brazil nut flavor, which was super delicious and not too sweet. There was also a huge array of free food which I attacked, the hummus was my favorite. My only complaint was that the speaker was held in the same room as a bunch of the booths, so you couldn't really comfortably converse with anyone at the booths. Hopefully next year they'll move into a bigger space!

After my roomate and I hung out in the park, then hit up Fresh for dinner. We munched on some Onion Rings, which were amazing as always, and I went with the Holiday wrap without the wrap.

Later last night I watch the documentary 'Vanishing Of The Bees'. After reading all the bee talk on Gena's blog, I was curious to find out more on CCD(Colony Collapse Disorder). It's a phenomenon that's been happening around the world, where bees just seem to vanish from their hives, yet very few bodies are being found. Bees play an integral part of our food chain, pollinating numerous plants which grow into the food we eat. Without bees, the majority of our food and vegetable supply would disappear, which would cause dire circumstances for the entire earth. Speculation about the causes have pointed towards pesticide use and GMO crops, as well as the lack of biodiversity in most farms in the States. In strong doses it appears that the pesticides poison the bees, disrupting their sense of direction and navigation, therefore making it impossible for them to find their way home.

Some beekeepers are taking up a more holistic, biodynamic approach to caring for their bees, and this seems to have a positive effect on them. Yet another reason that I believe farming needs to go back to it's roots and employ organic, biodiverse methods. This would cut down on pests' ability to flourish, as well as enable bees to have a wide variety of crops to pollinate and feed off of for longer periods of time,as opposed to fields of entirely one crop which bloom and die all at once. This type of farming forces beekeepers to move their groups(hives? herds? I don't know what you call them) to different fields all over, disrupting the bees and probably confusing them as well.

The documentary is as fascinating as it is disturbing, you can find it here:

I've never really been sure of where I stand on honey consumption as a vegan. I don't eat a lot of it generally, but after watching the documentary I think I'm going to make a conscious effort to exclude it from my diet, perhaps unless I know where it is coming from, and how the bees are treated. Treatment of bees may sound a little ridiculous, but after watching the documentary and seeing how colonies are treated in larger scale factory farm bee situations, it's not something I'm really comfortable with, or that aligns with my beliefs.

Bees live in colonies each with a Queen, the rest are worker bees(all female), and drones(males, whose sole purpose is to mate with the Queen). In factory farm bee operations, the Queen is generally artificially inseminated after been drugged, and then after a short period of time being Queen she is killed to make room for a younger replacement. If left to their own devices, bee Queens in the wild may live for up to 5 years. As a vegan a principle I try to live by a Sanskrit phrase 'Ahimsa', which translate to 'avoid violence', or 'do no harm'. In my life I try to practice non-violence, whether towards animals, myself, or others. Bees are included as animals, and I just don't find myself comfortable with farming practices which kill needlessly or cause harm.

I'm aware that not all beekeepers run their hives this way, some take a more holistic approach to it, and maybe it would be a different situation if I knew how the bees were treated. Maybe not, though, since the same argument can be made for cattle that are grass fed, antibiotic free, and the like. It's a slippery slope when you start justifying some means of animal farming.

Anyone else have any thoughts on bees and beekeeping? On whether vegans should eat honey or not?

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