THE BLOG

Are Urban Bees Immune to Colony Collapse Disorder?

10/07/2013 01:21 pm ET | Updated Dec 07, 2013

About a month after we moved to our new home, a few of neighbors came by to personally thank us.  They said they hadn't seen bees in their gardens in quite a while and they were happy to see them returning.

They came to thank us because we are urban beekeepers.

My husband and I keep several hives tucked into a corner of our backyard in full sun and out of the way of the neighbors. They zip and buzz over a mammoth hedge and into the blue sky above.

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Urban Hives in a Backyard

The bees roam the parks and gardens of our suburban neighborhood visiting a large variety of plants, trees, weeds and wildflowers which classifies our honey in the Wildflower category and makes for distinctly different flavors from season to season depending on what is currently in bloom.

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Color Variations from Harvest to Harvest

We practice natural, ethical and sustainable beekeeping principles.  We do not use any treatments or pesticides on bees or in our garden.  We leave the bees alone to do their thing and only intervene as needed.

Taking all those things into account, it is reasonable to think that we should be losing hives to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) left and right, but we're not.  We could run extensive tests and get down to the genetics of our bees, but even if we did, we can't know for sure because no one has really been able to pin-point the exact cause of CCD. More and more researchers attest that the cause lay in multiple factors and that no one clear cut culprit can be blamed.

I personally hope it has something to do with our excellent care but I know that South Florida's great weather, the reduced number of pesticides in urban areas versus agricultural areas, and our local plant diversity are more than likely helping too.

We are not the only lucky ones.  Sure, South Florida has great weather but urban beekeepers everywhere are reporting the same lowered incidence of CCD.  Noah Wilson-Rich, a Simmons College's faculty members in the Department of Biology and Urban Beekeeper estimates that the "survival of bees is greater in urban beekeeping (62.5 percent) than the more traditional rural beekeeping (40 percent)."

Could urban beekeeping be the solution to the elusive Colony Collapse Disorder?

Scientists still have many more questions to answer here and I think we need to do a lot of thinking about the chemicals we are putting into our foods and the effects they are having on us personally, locally, nationally and globally.  But until that happens, I do believe the salvation of the bees may lay in our cities and the hands of men and women who dare to keep them.

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