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Gray ethical areas, regarding bees...?

OK, so, I'm an active enemy of certainty; I think questioning is good.  I'm not trying to argue one side or the other, just curious what you guys think.

This is an article about the problems caused to beehives by mass use for pollination, of (even organic) vegan food like avocados & almonds... most cultivated crops... If this does MORE harm to the bees than honeymaking, is it still the more vegan option? Isn't it exploitation either way? If the one does more harm than the other, would that change how you eat? If not, doesn't that create a certain dissonance?

Is the use of bees for pollination a necessary component, for having enough veggie foods to make veg*nism a functional option? It looks to me like the answer might be 'yes'... It seems like, on the one hand, we want plentiful plant foods, to avoid the need for eating anything else; on the other hand, those plentiful plant crops seem to require the harmful use of bee colonies, for pollination...

I'm not an agricultural expert; what am I missing? Is there a way to have both -- plentiful plant foods w/o use of bees, by humans? Curious what you guys think about it...

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/03/no_way_to_treat_a_bee.html

I'm a huge fan of sustainable agriculture, and would like to find a way *not* to do harm, while producing food... what's the best way to address this problem, do you think, regarding bees?

Honey  <-- We discussed that angle in this thread, I think.  If not, it was the previous honey round.

I'm absolutely perplexed as to why people need to continue debating honey.  It's like Fox manufactured drama.  Glenn Beck is going to sign up to discuss this next.

It comes down to doing the least amount of harm.  Can we avoid honey?  Yes.  Do I know of a way to avoid commercial-bee-colony-pollinated crops?  No.  Therefore, I won't eat honey, but I will eat grains.

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why can't bees just decide for themselves where to pollinate, instead of being carted around and used as pollinating machines? i like in what a farmer said in Food Inc, "We want everything bigger, faster, fatter, cheaper"... we need to calm the fuck down and let bees just be bees instead of trying to mess so much with mother nature... it's getting ridiculous... and for consuming honey... what's the point? use agave nectar... so easy

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I'm absolutely perplexed as to why people need to continue debating honey...
It comes down to doing the least amount of harm. 

Right! Agreed! the question is, what DOES the least amount of harm? I'm not trying to say people should or shouldn't eat honey: I am looking for a way to cause less harm.

I don't think modern conventional agriculture is on a good path, though we depend on it for ample veggies; bees seem to be in a unique position of harm, to produce my food. So: what's a better way? If we shifted production to smaller/ more diverse farms, with every farm having its own hive (that could be left alone/ not transported)...? Would that even work, to grow enough? Would it still be exploitation? If apiarists are saying, less bees die when we make honey than when we make pollination trips... it just seems weird to avoid the one and embrace the other. So, IS there a way to NOT have our food production MORE harmful to bees, than honey making? *Not* whether to avoid something; but how to make the process less harmful: that's what I'm trying to explore.

AML, I like leaving things alone to 'just be' (or 'just bee,' haha)... but without pollination of plant crops, our plant-based diet isn't possible... that doesn't justify us doing just whatever we want, but like any other creature we've gotta eat... so, IS there a way for respectful coexistence? Pollination without exploitation?

I have no problem with avoiding honey; but if what we're doing with modern agriculture is doing MORE harm than honey, don't we need to find a better way to do things? Otherwise it makes no difference that honey's not consumed: the harm is still being done.

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victory gardens

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FYI i don't know much about bees... but we never had a problem with plants being pollinated in earlier times when bees just did their usual business... why can't they just pollinate on their own? is that not possible anymore or something?

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I'm no expert either... my understanding is that it's a problem of scale. There are tons MORE people than ever before, and as long as we have a food production model emphasizing mass production/ vast tracts of monoculture crops, the system requires heavy intervention by transported (vs naturally left-alone) bees, in order to work... one reason I think we need to revamp the whole system! What worked with smaller/ diversified farms, long ago, doesn't work to the scale (& with the methods by which) we're farming produce now...

I'm not a farmer: someone correct me, if I'm wrong! but I think that's the gist of why what worked with pollination long ago isn't functional now without artificial manipulation, under the current agricultural model... sure seems like we should be able to set it up better, though, so we can grow enough food without such practices. Small farms/ diversified farms seem like a good start; more people keeping bees and growing food would help, I think...

Within a local/ sustainable agriculture situation, to facilitate pollination by 'left-alone' bees (i.e. not for honey), would anyone consider keeping a hive? If that helped local growers raise crops without needing to import bees? I've never thought of doing that, but a lot of folks are starting to keep backyard hives (though mostly not for this reason, I'm sure) -- I keep seeing articles about non-traditionally-agricultural areas that rezone their ag rules, to allow beekeeping & backyard chickens... any value there? maybe if bees were commonly housed by non-farmers, then the folks growing our food wouldn't need to transport hives in, & the bees could just do their own thing, but we'd still have enough food produced? Would enough people be willing to do this to make it work? Surely we can come up with better (less harmful) strategies than what we're doing *now*, right? hope so... & not just for bees!

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how scary! a bee hive in my backyard? ya no thanks...

my bf's gpa is a farmer so i asked my bf about it... he said his gpa didn't need to import or buy bees, he just had these boxes by his crops that i guess he would spray with faramones that would attract bees and their queen... the bees would produce honey and his gpa would collect that to sell as well... i'm guessing the huge mass producing farms are the ones having the problems... maybe the ones producing the commodity crops?

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i thought this blogpost was really interesting..

http://lagusta.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/on-being-a-bad-vegan-part-three-bees/#comment-3853

Me too: thanks for posting! I'm reading a really good book called 'Freethinkers', by Susan Jacoby, and it's really kind of reminded me about the value of questioning assumptions, and continually seeking the most reasonable (vs the most believed-in) ideas/ solutions/ theories/ etc. I can see both sides here; but I think the arguments raised by the author of this post are worthy of consideration and thoughtful reflection.

There's a thread in 'what's new pussycat' about bees dying off, relevant here... I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that more individual conscientious people need to keep bees, or our food supply is in trouble. The more I read about it, the less I see other likely solutions... Once hub & I move house, later this year... hmmm... idk, it's interesting. May have to give it a go.

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It was interesting.  Not well written.  Rather poorly written.  But interesting.

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I wish I could set up a backyard beehive with native/endangered bee species. I don't know whether I'd take any honey (actually, bears/raccoons would probably beat me to it, XD) but just to know I'm giving them a home. Ah well, I suppose I can just plant lots of bee-friendly flora.

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As regular people, we can plant bee-friendly flowers and crops. It's a tiny drop in the bucket, but anything to help, right?

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I'm no expert either... my understanding is that it's a problem of scale. There are tons MORE people than ever before, and as long as we have a food production model emphasizing mass production/ vast tracts of monoculture crops, the system requires heavy intervention by transported (vs naturally left-alone) bees, in order to work... one reason I think we need to revamp the whole system! What worked with smaller/ diversified farms, long ago, doesn't work to the scale (& with the methods by which) we're farming produce now...

Just want to mention here, this wouldn't be a problem if everyone was vegan.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the vast amount of crops grown (that bees are used to pollinate) is for the production of meat, am I wrong?  So because people eat meat, then the way it is now is the way it HAS to be, otherwise there isn't enough food to feed everyone, but if everyone was vegan, then only 1/6 of the current amount of crops grown would have to be grown and things would be so much better for everyone including mother nature.

I may not be 100% correct, my memory is fuzzy, but that is how I understand it.

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An unreasonable percentage of U.S. arable land IS used for grain for animal feed vs. human food; but if everyone went vegan and we kept the same industrial production model for producing human-food crops, the pollination problem wouldn't change. Unless maybe every 'farm' also maintained enough beehives to pollinate their fields, and used no artificial pesticides... which they wouldn't do b/c it's apparently cheaper to 'bus them in', and profit is all within the current ag system. And the heavy use of pesticides to boost yields is as much a bee problem for fruit/ veg production as it is for grain production...

If everyone went vegan, we'd all be eating apples, almonds, veggies, legumes.... great! Much better for health & environment than meat production, definitely! but all these things still need pollinating, so it seems like that hypothetical change in U.S. dietary habits (while a good one!) wouldn't change the bee problem.

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