Category Archives: The Food Web

Wonder and Awe: The Honeybee Worker, Part 1 of 2

Queen Bee

There are three castes in the honeybee world: queen, drone, and worker. There is typically only one queen per colony. The rest of the female honeybees are called workers because they do all the work. The queen lays eggs, end of list. The drone provides sperm, end of list. But the workers’ list never seems…

Almonds without Honeybees?

Almond Genetisist

Geneticist Craig Ledbetter examines a self-pollinating almond selection in a California test plot. Here’s one thing I thought I knew absolutely: almonds require honeybees for pollination. Well, it turns out I was almost correct. Eighty percent of the world’s almond crop is grown in California on more than 600,000 acres. That’s where the best attributes—long,…

Honeybee’s Indolent Dawdling Deliverer: The Drone

Male honeybees are called drones. Let me just drone on about them for a while. Drones are insects, not to be confused with the high-tech gadgets used to spy on you in modern times. Honeybee drones are good for only one thing: passing their mother’s genes on to future generations. This is no exaggeration. It…

Synthetically Modified Food—Another Reason to Worry?

GMO corn

A lot of people are freaking out about GMOs—and for good reason. The public has been lied to many times regarding food safety, so it’s no surprise we’re paranoid. How can we overlook mistakes like this old ad: “DDT is good for me-e-e!” While the GMO debate rages, now there’s a new kid on the…

Little Addicts

candy

Dad and I were standing next to the cake and candy table at my cousin Leah’s wedding, watching the couple’s first dance. Two little boys about 5 and 8 came up and frantically scanned the glass candy bowls. But all of the candy was gone. The 5-year-old spun around and stared up at us. “Where…

To the Almonds! It’s Super Bee!

The netting might be relatively opaque and difficult to see through, but you can be sure that there are millions of living honeybees riding on the trailer. When the truck says something about honey, bees, or apiaries, what’s riding is probably live insects. (Photo by Hackenberg Apiaries, used with permission from Dave Hackenberg, commercial beekeeper.)…

The Honeybee Queen

The honeybee is an amazingly popular topic of conversation among the general public these days—even starring on the cover of Time magazine in 2013. No one is more acutely aware of this than beekeepers like myself. In any given audience, all I have to do is mention I’m a beekeeper, and I’m pretty much guaranteed…

Bee Safe Neighborhoods

By Donald Studinski, based on original text by David Braden, Director of Living Systems Institute Living Systems Institute (LSI), a non-profit operating in Golden, Colorado, and Honeybee Keep, a commercial beekeeping business operating in Broomfield, Colorado, have joined forces to sponsor the Bee Safe Neighborhoods program. We pose this question: “Do you want a healthy…

Beekeepers Need a Living Wage

Don Studinski works the bees for customer Jamie Ngo. This colony is called Sugarloaf 13. Jamie pays an annual pollination fee which helps keep the beekeeper alive. (Photo by Jamie Ngo) I love my fellow beekeepers. Of course we disagree on small, unimportant details, but overall this is a wonderful bunch of people whose hearts…

Your Backyard Garden Is Killing Honeybees!

DDT advertisement circa 1947 from Pennsalt Chemicals. In a recent article for the American Bee Journal, Ron Phipps writes: […] it is becoming increasingly clear that the widespread use of neonicotinoids on agricultural crops is a major factor [for annual honeybee losses.] The manufacturers of these pesticides, like the manufacturers of tobacco products in an…

The Art of Companion Planting

Carrots love tomatoes, and roses love garlic. Much like humans, plants like to be around other plants they love: their companions. Companion planting is the practice of designing the layout of your crops so that two or more vegetables, herbs, or flowers with beneficial characteristics grow close together. And it’s pretty amazing! Beneficial characteristics include…

What’s Growing in the Garden

Many (all right, almost all) of the challenges of farming are due to the unpredictable forces of nature. Thanks to resources like the Farmers’ Almanac, biodynamic planting calendars, and weather forecasting, we can plan the best care for our crops. With every season you learn new and better ways to act with a little caution…

Spring Cheepers

They’re so darn cute—those tiny, fragile, yellow and brown fluff balls of adorable goodness. The cheeps from the baby chicks and ducks remind us that spring is here. But their journey started long before their eggs began to crack. Reasons for hatching your own birds can vary. You may want to establish a strong and…

Children’s Taste Buds Are Our Future

I have hope for the future of food because I have hope for a new generation of taste buds. Yep, taste buds. They’re going to move the food industry away from the synthetic and processed nastiness that started taking over our grocery shelves way back in the 1950s—when Dr. Royal Lee fired several warning shots…

Silent Sting: Plight of the Pollinators

Spraying poison on almonds

In the middle of an almond orchard, a tractor sprays the trees in bloom RIGHT NEXT to the honeybee hives. Of course, it must be lemonade they are spraying, right? They would never spray insecticide or fungicide right next to the hives, right? As far as honeybees are concerned, what happens in Southern California early…

The Seven Deadly Fallacies of the Western Diet

Sometimes we don’t see ourselves until we catch our reflections staring back at us from a mirror. Although the image is reversed, it still reveals the facts, whether they be flaws or perfections. Perhaps our common-sense desire for healthy food is also easier to express in reverse. What are people actually saying when they insist…

Is Honey Safe for Sugar Sensitive People?

Perfectly balanced in glucose and fructose, honey is exactly what the liver needs to reduce blood sugar spiking. In my social circles, this is such a fundamental belief that I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write about—until I looked at the research. I was shocked to find counter opinions. Should a…

Support the Weston A. Price Foundation!

Because much of our modern food supply is laden with refined and synthetic ingredients, we need to support organizations that help us make informed decisions about the food we eat. One shining example of such an organization is the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). WAPF was established in 1999 to preserve and carry on the important…

Deep Freeze, Honeybees, and You

Within the cluster in the hive, honeybees maintain a temperature between 92°F and 95°F year-round. They do not hibernate. They do not migrate. They hunker down and create kinetic heat by vibrating the same thoracic flight muscles that normally beat their wings. They are able to detach the wings and vibrate to produce heat even…