I have a confession to make: my interest in beekeeping borders on the unhealthy and obsessive. I once attended an international beekeeping conference in Italy.
In my defense, I was covering a story for Slow Food International on mono-varietal honey production (say that ten times fast). It wasn’t the mechanics of beekeeping itself that hooked me, or the deliciously sweet and sticky honeys I got to sample, but the fascinating eccentricities of the beekeepers themselves.
One man from Japan brought a rare honey filled with poisonous wasps that had drowned in the bottle. The adrenaline that coursed through their bodies as they died was believed to have infused the honey such that whoever consumed it would be filled with energy.
Entering a conference room filled with dozens of attendees dressed proudly in full-on beekeeping garb, screened helmet and all, it would have been easy to think they were all unhinged. But in truth, it was just a sign of the incredible passion that each person brought to the subject of the health of the insects and their uncertain future.
Colony Collapse Disorder—the phenomenon in which entire hives of Western honeybees die suddenly and mysteriously— was the catalyst for the gathering and it was an issue that had touched and scared almost everyone in the room.
Experts and laymen floated various theories as to the cause of the widespread and financially ruinous deaths of entire colonies—parasites, global warming, pesticides or perhaps a mixture of all the above. It was a shared concern for the bees, for the environment and for their traditions and livelihoods that united the group.
And it’s a concern we should all share. A healthy honeybee population is not just a sweet subject, but an agricultural issue that affects us all. A world without honeybees doesn’t just mean we lose out on their nectar, but also almonds, apples, apricots…
One out of every three bites that you put into your mouth can be directly attributed to honeybee pollination. In the U.S. alone, bees are responsible for naturally pollinating approximately $15 billion worth of crops each year.
Issue 2 of edibleDC shines a light on some of our favorite delicious (or beelicious) products and people that are helping to sustain our local bee population. Our mission is to connect our readers to the people and places their food is coming from, and in this case, the insect that makes it all happen.
Keeping a hive of bees, planting gardens, supporting local honey makers and those using their products are just small ways that we here in DC can take action to preserve the lives of the little creatures who put food on our tables in a subtle but profoundly important way.
Eat, drink, read, think,