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Carly Otis

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Can urban beehives increase food production?

It has been estimated that somewhere between fifty and ninety percent of the colonies of bees in US beekeeping operations have collapsed from a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This disorder is characterized by the disappearance of bees from a colony, but a lack of dead bodies to explain where they went. Some scientists believe that the culprit is a virus known as the Israeli acute paralysis virus (Cox-Foster et al, 2007). CCD is causing the collapse of bee colonies all over the world, reducing pollination rates, and causing essential food sources to become more scarce and more expensive. Noah Wilson-Rich, a scientist who studies bee diseases, has suggested an easy solution to the problem: urban beekeeping. In his Ted Talk “Every City Needs Healthy Honey Bees”, Wilson-Rich shares that bees are actually surviving better in urban environments than rural ones. He suggests that increasing the number of urban beehives, along with introducing green roofs and urban gardens, will allow food production to begin to increase (while also reducing the prices of many crops). In many cities in the United States it is illegal to have a beehive because people are allergic and/or afraid of bees, but in some countries urban beekeeping is thriving (Paris, France is a great example!). 

Do you think it is possible for the United States to develop an urban beekeeping industry? Would it have enough of a positive outcome to outweigh the downsides of urban beehives?

http://www.ted.com/talks/noah_wilson_rich_every_city_needs_healthy_honey_bees.html
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/318/5848/283.full

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Closing Statement from Carly Otis

After much conversation, I think it is safe to say that most people think that urban beehives will have a positive influence on honey bee populations and biological diversity in urban environments. However, many people pointed out that this will not solve the issue of colony collapse disorder that is facing bees. Much more research needs to be done to determine what the true culprit of this phenomenon is (possibilities are neonicotinoid pesticides, varroa mites, Israeli acute paralysis virus, etc), but in the meanwhile urban beehives can help to maintain populations. It was mentioned a few times throughout the conversation that many people will be opposed to the introduction of urban beehives due to the rather large portion of our society that is afraid of and/or allergic to bees. To get around this, many people suggested that schools implement some sort of program to teach the public that honey bees are actually nothing to be afraid of, and that they will only harm you if you harm them. In addition, keeping beehives in places that are out of public view will help to alleviate some issues relating to neighborly disputes and accidental stings. One good technique is to place hives on rooftops, which will force bees to fly at a higher elevation and reduce the amount of bee-human interactions. Another issue with urban beekeeping is that there are much fewer food resources for bees in urban environments than rural ones, so it was decided that an urban beekeeping industry will only be successful in places where urban gardens and/or green roofs are also successful. Overall, it sounds like urban beekeeping has a good chance in the U.S., as long as we begin to educate people about honey bees and how critical they are for food production.

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    May 21 2013: I came across an awesome project in Chicago called Bike-a-Bee. A woman used kickstarter to fund a program where she is installing bee hives in various community gardens across Chicago, which she will maintain by riding her bike to check up on the different hives. What's especially great is the community participation aspect. Before launching the kickstarter, she went and talked to different community gardens, who responded with enthusiasm. Contributors to her campaign will receive raw honey from the hives and other gifts, keeping them involved though their donation is complete. It's a truly community based effort.

    Check out this interview for more information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/bike-a-bee-urban-agriculture_n_1205178.html
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      May 22 2013: This is a great idea! I think that by involving the community like this it helps them to see how the bees are positively impacting their community and they get to prosper from the honey that is also being produced.
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    May 21 2013: I imagine that in addition to the Israeli acute paralysis virus, industrial agriculture is major factor in the disappearance of honey bees and many other pollinators. The extensive use of pesticides on large industrial farms is one way to combat the loss of bees not to mention allowing industrial farms to revert to more natural, small scale style farming. Allowing natural predators to keep pest levels down and biodiversity of plants in and around the farm will allow for more diversification of pollinators too.
    Even though I believe that the EPA is a permitting agency, rather than a protection agency, they recently acknowledged the issue of pollinator disappearance in the US. They concluded that many factors are contributing to pollinator decline including:" inadequate food sources (nutrition), diseases (bacteria, fungi and viruses), habitat loss and bee management practices, as well as pesticides."
    Urban and local farming is the answer to food security and food justice around the world. Education on the value of diversity of our gardens and the food on market shelves is needed, because at this rate we won't always have the options we do today.

    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/strategic-plan.html
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    Jon Cox

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    May 21 2013: Urban beekeeping is already pretty popular with backyard farmer types and is in fact legal in most places in the U.S. Just in the last few years bans on bees have been lifted in cities all over the country. New York City, for example, legalized beekeeping in 2010 (1). Some cities continue to keep bees out but their numbers are dropping. This website provides a wall of shame displaying cities and areas that still prohibit beekeeping (2).

    Maybe someone mentioned this already, but urban farming laws here in Eugene, OR were recently modified and it is now perfectly legal to maintain not 1 but 3 apiaries on your property in city limits as long as you meet certain care guidelines (3). In addition to bees, we can now have goats, pigs, and more rabbits or chickens than before.

    As personal and community gardens become more common and people wise up about what they are eating and discover the joys of growing one's own food, adding bees to the mix is a totally logical step. More bees in the city = more productive gardens for everyone within range of the hive. It makes a lot of sense.

    As for downsides of urban beekeeping... are there any? One article (4) warns that there may be dangers.. so adequate education and regulation are a must, but otherwise I hope to see urban beekeeping and gardening rise together in popularity.

    1. http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/blogs/bees/legalized-beekeeping
    2. http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/blogs/bees/illegal-urban-beekeeping-0602
    3. http://www.registerguard.com/web/news/sevendays/29471508-41/animal-ordinance-six-council-residents.html.csp
    4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/6016980/The-dangers-of-amateur-urban-beekeeping.html
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      May 21 2013: It would be cool to see cities make an initiative for bee keeping. Like have a specific number of bee farms that would be beneficial to that area and pay people so much extra per year, or give a tax break to those keeping bees on their property. I think that it would make bee populations increase in cities and make people more aware that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. And that bees are not to be feared but honored for the job they do pollinating our plants.
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        Jon Cox

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        May 21 2013: Yeah that's a great idea. It could definitely by argued that urban bees provide a great service to residents and improve quality of life in cities, it would make sense that a city would offer some sort of incentive for keeping them. There are plenty of tax breaks out there for agriculture, such as livestock, etc., but in most (but not all) places it seems that bees are excluded. A couple years ago Lee County, FL categorized bees as livestock and so beekeepers would receive agricultural exemptions on their property taxes. Of course many people complained, worried that the county would lose too much money and because bees are relatively easy to keep, people would abuse the statute and just keep bees for the tax breaks. I believe that beekeepers had to be able to prove that they were actually making money from their bees to receive the credit.

        I think people are starting to see bees differently, but ignorance and baseless fear are still a huge problem. It makes no sense to be afraid of insects :] Very few can actually hurt you and the rest simply make life on earth possible.

        http://www.nbc-2.com/story/15271243/bees-giving-landowners-sweet-tax-breaks
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        May 21 2013: I like the idea of giving a tax break to people who have beehives on their property, however I think that is really far off in the future if it ever happens. It definitely makes sense though! The government subsidizes a lot of different types of food, it would only make sense to subsidize the one thing that allows food production to occur at all. They should, at the very least, be implementing some sort of protection for the bees since they are so important to us.
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          May 21 2013: I would like to think that it doesn't have to be that far off in the future. I think the first step would be informing the general population about the benefit of bees and that they do not need to be feared. We could start teaching kids the basic importance about bees in elementary school and get more in depth in high school. I think getting more people aware of what is going on would be the first step and then with enough people on board the government will have to follow our lead.
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        May 21 2013: Also, as I saw from an urban farm yesterday, honey bees are not aggressive unless provoked. If we create urban beehives that are thriving, pollinating, managed and controlled correctly, most likely these bees will be "high on nectar" as someone once said, and won't even worry about us pesky humans. They'll be focusing on their goal of pollination, and if we provide the flowers, crops, etc that they need, which would be the goal, they'd be doing their jobs and no bothering us, benefiting society and nature.
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          May 22 2013: That is an important realization, that honey bees are essentially totally harmless unless forced to defend themselves. Stinging is a very expensive thing for a honey bee to do considering that it results in their death!

          And I bet you already know this but just for fun I will clarify that pollination is not the goal of bees or other pollinator species. Over time plants have devised ways to convince or just trick animals into helping them reproduce and disperse. The goal of the bee is to obtain nectar and pollen, and it fertilizes flowers inadvertently as it does so.
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      May 21 2013: This information about urban bee keeping in the US is very encouraging. I think the most important factor to keep in mind as this movement proliferates cities across the US is public acceptance/approval. By educating people about the benefit bees provide and ensuring adequate regulation/enforcement of urban hives, I think this movement can have successful outcomes. This delicate balance of ecological benefit and public consent must be maintained at all costs because it only takes one lawsuit from an outraged citizen for a city to start banning urban bee keeping. Overall, this is an awesome concept and I hope it experiences successful implementation and longevity.
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        May 22 2013: Unfortunately public consent is the limiting factor of progress in a lot of these environmental/ecological issues, isn't it?

        :)

        But then again there are things like the Belo Monte dam project that go ahead without public consent, and that is really scary...

        It takes time to introduce ideas and change minds, I suppose.
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      May 22 2013: The only real downside that I can think of for urban beekeeping, especially in its early stages are the lack of regulation leading to issues like you pointed out. In London there has been a recent boom of urban beekeeping which has led to a huge increase in the number of individuals and hives in the population. The increase has been so great and so rapid that experts there now fear that the bees may soon run out of suitable food sources (1). Like you said though, this issue would be easy to fix if educated, strict regulations were placed on how many bees are allowed within a particular area.

      1)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224640/Urban-beekeeping-Not-food-popular-trend-doubles-population.html
  • May 22 2013: Dont know if anyone has posted this yet. National Geographic did an article about about a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Biology. In the study the researchers showed that an exposure to certain pesticides inhibited the bees memory and communication skills (waggle dance). Both memory and communication are crucial for pollination and the bees survival. If either is affected than pollination rates and bees ability to survive could be effected. Interesting read.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130213-honeybee-pesticide-insect-behavior-science/
    http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2013/02/04/jeb.083931.abstract.html?papetoc
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      May 22 2013: The study you brought up is interesting and I hadn't heard of this phenomena before. This could potentially be a reason why bees aren't thriving as well in the U.S. It would be interesting to compare the effects of pesticides from different areas where bees are not doing well to places where they are thriving. This could show if our pesticides are a large contributing factor to the bees population collapse.
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      May 22 2013: I think pesticides really need to be looked into more, not just for bees but for other pollinators too. Pesticides are good in that they kill the pests that would normally harm or destroy crops. But pesticides can also kill the good organisms that crops benefit from.

      Unfortunately it seems as though there is not just one cause of CCD. TIME magazine posted an article online that says, along with pesticides, things that cause CCD are several viruses, a parasitic mite, and a bacterial disease. While hopefully the pesticides that do cause CCD will eventually not be used, viruses, mites and bacteria are much harder to treat in bees.

      http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/
    • May 22 2013: In a Nat Geo article called "The Plight of the Honeybee", the author compares CCD in bees to HIV/AIDS in humans: AIDS isn't what kills you, it is the opportunistic ailments that take hold when your immune system is low. So what if CCD is similar? I think that it is extremely important to find out what causes the change in the honeybee colony that inevitably leads to its demise. Could it be pesticides altering behavior and physiology in the bees be that?

      The EU just recently banned the pesticide thought to be the major contributor to honeybee declines, neonicotinoids, for two years. Bees exposed to neonicotinoids have been found to have an increased amount of nosema, a gut parasite. If worker bees' lives are reduced - even by a couple of days - that can have a huge effect on colony production, potentially leading to the failure of it.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130510-honeybee-bee-science-european-union-pesticides-colony-collapse-epa-science/
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    May 22 2013: Just to add some prospective to this topic, and not to say increasing the number of urban, suburban and rural beehives is not important.
    But with nearly 20,000 known species of bees plus other insects that pollinate, some of the clams of disaster if we loss Honey bees are exaggerated.
    Right now I can look at a flowering bush and I see over a dozen types of bees, the ground/miner bees season does not start to around July. (I know this because I have a colony in my pole-barn, that emerge every year after the spring rains.)

    I just discovered bee house, so helping solitary bees looks to bee as simple as placing a bee house in your garden.
    Here a good Video on them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhM3kugXTEU
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      May 22 2013: This is a great point, Don. So many different insects contribute to pollination. Appreciating and maintaining pollinator diversity is important.
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      May 22 2013: Your mention of a wide variety of pollinators makes me wonder if any of these insects might cause problems for urban beehives. Africanized honey bees are one insect variety I can think of that might cause problems. They are known for their more aggressive behavior and have the ability take over European honey bee hives. I think this more aggressive behavior may also be responsible for some of the negative stigmas associated with bees. The possibility of urban beehives being overtaken by this more aggressive variety of honeybee should definitely be considered and strategies to combat unwanted invasions should be devised.
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        May 22 2013: This is interesting, it never occurred to me that some types of honey bees might be more territorial and might actually outcompete other bee species. I think that if urban beekeeping becomes more popular, it will be imperative that the keepers know exactly what kind of bee they have and what influences that may have on natural populations. On top of that, people who aren't very informed about how to keep their bees happy and healthy might actually contribute to the increase in CCD by spreading viruses to other bees in the area. Because of this it will be super important that people are informed about beekeeping before starting a hive.
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    May 22 2013: I think it is possible for united states to legalize the urban bee keeping like make an urban keeping industry because the positive outcome should outweigh the downsides. First of all, just like Noah Wilson-Rich said on TED talk, honey bees have worked for plant pollination for thousand years. It is really important and useful tool for pollination. Now, as the increasing popularity of urban farms or agriculture, urban bees are also necessary. Because urban farms can provide food that without long distance transportation, which are fresh and organic. Urban farms and urban bees should be a part of city.

    Secondly, bees normally do not sting you. Stinging you is the last resort. When people are too close from them, they normally just buzz you and finally when they are scared, they just sting you. Therefore, people can just live friendly with bees. Urban also need biodiversity, need bees.

    I also found a very interesting website with different kinds of urban bees researches. One of them is in San Francisco Bay Area. There are many different bees species and the plants and flowers are attractive to bees. Many researchers and visitors come to see urban bees each year. Bees' pollination makes the city turn to be more beautiful.
    http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/research_regional.html
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    May 22 2013: Yes, I do think it is possible for the U.S to allow urban beekeeping. As we know, honeybees are playing vital role in our ecosystem since they are responsible for pollinating flowering plants and crops. Plants require these process to reproduce, thus the increasing number of urban honeybees will definitely sustain our food supply chain. Many people will consider the downside of urban beehive such as allergic or sting. However, bees seem do pretty well in urban environment. According to bee expert Noah Wilson-Rich, he reported in his article
    (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/urban-beekeeping-keeps-cities-healthy/4768) that 62.5% of urban bees survive the winter compared to only 40% in rural area. The yield of honeybees in urban is also great higher. This phenomenon may due to “mono crop” in rural area, which make bees become “mono pollen diet”. Pollen can provide nutrition to bees in order to maintain good health. Bees in rural area are susceptible to parasites or less pesticide use due to its unbalanced diet. CCD may be one result of this. The variety of plants and flowers in our urban garden, roads can give a potential better chance of survival of bees in urban area. City can provide a rich diversity of pollen to bees and keep them in good health. If we can keep beehive in the appreciate place, such as roof terrace, house garden or an allotment, the downside of bees will be avoided. Currently, there are many designs for urban beehive and I really like the Phillips urban beehive. It is an environmental friendly and sustainable product. It has an entry for bees with flower outside and also contains a glass vessel with honeycomb frame inside. Here is the Phillips urban beehive design: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/sites/philipsdesign/about/design/designportfolio/design_futures/urban_beehive.page
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    May 22 2013: Due to overuse of pesticides in the Maoxian county of Sichuan, China, there are no pollinators for the pear and apple trees. The result is that once a year, thousands of villagers gather to hand pollinate the trees. I imagine this takes a lot more human hours than bee hours.


    http://www.apinews.com/en/news/item/12780-china-hand-pollination
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      May 22 2013: This is a good example of what can happen when we damage the ecosystem services that sustain us.

      Hopefully screw-ups like this (assuming pesticide use was a key contributor to the decline) can be learned from and avoided before they are repeated elsewhere. I wonder if they are able to reintroduce bees to the area or not.
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        May 22 2013: From what I have read, pesticides were used very generously in this region due to strong pest problems, and the resulting degradation of wild pollinators was so profound that they do not pollinate fruit trees at all. This article* says that honey bee keepers are reluctant to bring hives to this region because the farmers are trigger happy with pesticides. Even though human pollination has been going on for two decades in this part of China, it seems they are still spraying pests. That is very strange.

        http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2011/02/hand-pollination-of-apples-tre.html
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    May 21 2013: The general public has a negative view on bees and i think that this opinion will be hard to change anytime soon. By educating children at a young age about the importance of bees and bee keeping we can encourage communities to create bee gardens or make artificial bee hives. Recycling really took off after it was introduced in classrooms and kids were encouraged to participate, children educate there parents.

    I thought that this was a cool article and project that is being worked on. That brings up the question should we be focused on saving the bees or on technology to replace bees? Researchers at Harvard University have created a robotic bee, called the RoboBee. The machines design was inspired by the biology of a fly, with two wafer-tin wings that flap 120 times per second and is no bigger then a penny. This robot can fly using piezoelectric actuators. The “insect” is pre programed with a flight pattern so that it knows where to fly. While these robots have extremely small parts the researchers have found away to produce the parts in mass quality. The researchers hope that one day the RoboBee will be able to easily pollinate crop fields and conduct search and rescues missions.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502142649.htm
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/05/robotic-insects-make-first-controlled-flight/
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6132/603
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      May 22 2013: I agreed with you we need more education about bees and their behaviors to youth. I did not get any education about bees as a child. I still have phobia towards bees and not really sure about putting honeybee hives into urban areas because of the fear of general public (include myself). I think we need more research do be done about the causes of CCD. Find out the real problems then we will have more correct solutions to target the problems. As many post and comments mention before, the majority concerned is food and fruit production because some fruit only got pollinated by bees or specific kind of bees.

      The article you found on Sciencedaily is so interesting!! If we scale up the RoboBee maybe we could use it as temporary at massive fruit farms that are suffering from CCD meanwhile do more research about the cause of CCD.
      One interesting idea came up in my mind is that we could design a bee hives with solar panels and put them on building green roof. More on-site energy in urban and created a habitat for biodiversity in urban area also.
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      May 22 2013: I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of a "RoboBee". While it sounds like a really cool gadget, it could have some negative effects for actual bees. For example, if farmers start using them and they end up being a huge success, then bees will be out of a job and will simply be a nuisance for the workers, making the workers more inclined to kill them.
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        May 22 2013: I had the same misgivings about the possibilities of mass-utilization of robotic bees, but they are a cool invention. I doubt they would be cost effective to use as a substitute for biological bees in the near future, though.

        I also completely agree about education being the key to changing societies' view of bees, especially in children, but it would be necessary for adults as well if urban beehives are going to become a reality. Many peoples' fear of bees seems to be the biggest roadblock in that plan, and since it may help a population already stressed by CCD, letting people of all ages know the benefits of bees and the danger they (bees) could be in would be crucial.
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    May 21 2013: It is relatively well-known that bees are also declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In some very dense cities, such as New York and San Francisco, it would be incredibly interesting to see a city-wide project done where a certain neighborhood or grouping of city blocks would agree to create green roofs (maybe through some subsidized funds) that incorporated urban food growth and native bee habitat to try and mimic a continuous landscape. Placing the habitats on roofs, particularly at higher elevations in some cities, may encourage involvement from those that fear they could be harmed. Of course, I am not familiar with bees’ preferred elevation, so some strategy would have to go into that. In cities such as Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C., the cities are already providing some incentives through tax subsidies to encourage people to begin green roof projects (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/dining/17roof.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). It would be great to take some of that interest and those funds to look into urban beekeeping and this potential idea of creating a continuous landscape in some areas of town. Of course there would be some fragmentation with the presence of the gaps in roads, but this may be a case where something is better than nothing.
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      May 21 2013: I thought it was interesting that among pesticides, two of the most common contributors to CCD are stresses related to environment change/fragmentation and "migratory beekeeping". Apparently, natural pollinators come nowhere near close to supporting US agriculture on their own. To solve this, professional US beekeeping companies rent out their hives, so that one hive might spend January in California, March in Washington, and May in North Dakota. Beekeepers actually make more money from hive rentals than they do from honey production. However, some research has shown that moving hives all over the country contributes to the spread of mites and viruses between colonies, not to mention the stress that moving places on the hive. I'm not sure what the pollination range of bees is, but I like the idea of placing bee habitats on roofs in cities that are near locations that need extra pollination help (such as near almond trees in California). Then the bees would be kept a bit out of the way of normal foot traffic, but the entire hive wouldn't need to be uprooted every couple of months, hopefully lessening the spread of diseases between colonies.

      Source: Alexi Barrionuevo (27 February 2007). "Honeybees, Gone With the Wind, Leave Crops and Keepers in Peril". New York Times.
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        May 22 2013: Phoebe, this seemed like an excellent idea to me, but then I thought about the negative impacts that putting a beehive on a roof might have. The one downside I can think of would be the heat. As many roofs are shingled, it gets REALLY hot on sunny days. I think then colonies would have to constantly have many bees fanning the hive to try and circulate the hot air out of the hive. This would be energy that could instead be used for pollination instead of thermoregulation.

        Maybe instead of roofs, you could hangs beeboxes from trees? Now I don't know if this would anger the bees because their hives would be moving up and down every few days or so. It also poses the risk of beehives falling from the tree.
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        May 22 2013: It's also interesting that commercially managed honeybee colonies really cannot compensate for the loss of native pollinator communities.... Carvalheiro et al (2011) showed that the productivity of sunflower field was very much dependent on the proximity of natural habitat and on the diversity of the pollinating insects... but totally independent from the distance to managed colonies! Ann brought up a good point in discussion yesterday, which is that displaced and commercially managed honeybees may just be inherently less effective pollinators when introduced to an unfamiliar ecosystem.
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      May 22 2013: I actually found a few articles that talked about locating beehives on roofs to alleviate some of the dangers that people associate with bees. Since these 'dangers' have been exaggerated so much, beekeepers tend to try to keep their hives out of view even though the bees actually pose little to no threat at all. The idea of keeping bee hives on roofs not only keeps the hives out of sight, but it also forces the bees to fly at a higher elevation, preventing any kind of interaction with humans that might result in a sting.

      http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/study-abroad/100626/the-best-honey-paris-comes-the-opera-rooftop
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        May 22 2013: I stand corrected.
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          May 22 2013: Haha, only a little. It seems that overheating of the hive is a big concern for rooftop beekeepers, but it can be easily managed as long as you're able to provide some kind of shade for the hive (something like an umbrella would work nicely), and an adequate supply of water.
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    May 21 2013: It's a very interesting idea that I think still needs a lot of research as to which specific geographical regions are in need of this, what the bee population is in those regions, if CCD is occurring in those regions, and whether or not the public would be open to the idea of keeping urban bees, knowing that there are a lot of people deathly allergic to bee stings (public epipen stations?).

    Not only are bees very important to food product for humans, they are also very important to the overall natural food chain. For example, taking a tour of an "urban farm" the other day there was an urban beehive. Ever so often, birds would fly in and have a buffet of bees. Not only would bees be control by their predators, such as birds, they are important to a healthy food chain that if the bee population is healthy, so is the bird, spider, and many organisms that rely on relatively stable bee population. So the overall impacts of CCD is a scary reality on many social, ecologically, and agricultural levels.

    Heres another great TED talk on about a "Plea for bees" by Dennis Vanengelsdrop
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dennis_vanengelsdorp_a_plea_for_bees.html
    • May 22 2013: Good point about geographical regions where is this a problem. Did you find anything on particular regions where CCD is a problem?
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        May 22 2013: I actually didn't, I'm not sure if there is an actual geographic correlation with CCD. Mostly because there isn't much known about it at all. I think its occurring pretty randomly in terms of geography. It could be consequence due to geographical location, global warming, pesticides, etc who knows. But maybe there is some data that suggests its more common in some places than in other, yet I couldn't find anything that had information. Maybe if we established those regions, it'll make it easier to determine whats casing CCD.
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          May 22 2013: The only kind of geographic correlation that I found had to do with the introduction of varroa mites, which have all sorts of negative influences on honey bees. If I can find the paper that I read I'll give you the link, but from what I remember it sounded like the varroa mites originated from australia (I could be wrong about this though) and CCD has increased in areas where the bees used in beekeeping operations were shipped from australia. I don't personally think that varroa mites are the sole cause of CCD, but I think they significantly reduce the honey bees immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses, so it makes sense that CCD is increasing in areas where varroa mites have been introduced.
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    May 21 2013: 60 minutes did a great piece on CCD back in 2007 that stuck with me because the implications for our agricultural system were shocking. They weren't sure whether insecticides or a virus were the chief cause, and the stresses of encroaching human development also should play a role. One thing for sure was that whatever the cause it inhibits the bee's sense of direction, stopping it from returning to its hive, which is why no dead bees were found. One thing the piece taught me was that beekeepers are paid to drive semis full of bee boxes to orchards and places like that and distribute the bees around for the day to pollinate. Agricultural operations have increased tenfold in size over the last forty years, which puts extra pressure on the bees to perform. My first impression towards urban beekeeping and the associated farming is that it would require deep structural changes to our cities that we are not ready for. Ordinary people should not keep bees, the keepers are stung until further stinging is rendered inert. If we adjusted our agricultural subsidies to encourage families to farm their own produce, however, there may be a place for urban beekeepers who can adroitly deliver the bees on time in a bustling city environment.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-3407762.html
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    May 21 2013: Yesterday at the Urban Farm tour on the University of Oregon campus, our tour guide was showing up a couple of their beehives and they were surprisingly calm. We were only a couple yards away from the bee's nest and they didnt seem to care at all that we were there. He mentioned that each individual bee doesnt have its own emotion, but rather the colony all acts together in their emotions. For example, one bee by itself wont get mad and go after you, but if you upset the entire hive then all of the bees will get mad at once. He also mentioned that in cities like ours where there is a lot of blackberry bushes, the bees will likely be on a sugar high all summer so you could potentially walk right up to their hive and they wouldnt care. I think urban beehives could be a great thing for the urban environment. They seem to be a lot less aggressive than people portray them as. They really wont get mad unless you do something to purposely make them mad. Otherwise they just leave you alone. I think that as long as people understand more about them and how they operate then we all could coexist in the cities rather nicely.
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    May 21 2013: I think that beekeeping is such an amazing skill to have, and I also tend to think of it as a difficult skill to have. This may be because I have never been stung by a bee and have been trying to avoid bees for fear that I may be allergic to them. However, the more I've learned about bees the more I think of beekeeping as any other acquired skill; you've got to learn the ins and outs of how to do it just like anything else. So with that said I really like the idea of urban beekeeping. I don't know if I would personally do it, but there are a lot of people out there who may really like bees but never thought it was possible to beekeep in urban areas. If it can be beneficial for pollination rates and increasing certain food sources, then it may be able to remove some of the negative stigma that surrounds bees.
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      May 21 2013: This is exactly the kind of change in our cultural view that we need. There seems to be a lot of people in the world that are afraid of bees, and this is because of a lack of understanding what they do for us. If we could change this view it would be a huge first step to accepting beehives in urban areas.
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        May 22 2013: There's a lack of understanding what they do for us and also people are afraid of wasps and hornets.When the conversation of bees comes up those are the first ones that come to mind. I think that once people start to understand that honey bees are docile creatures unlike their relatives than they'll lessen their fear of them. It all starts with education.
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          May 22 2013: I think most people have a little background knowledge in the sense that they know bees pollinate flowers. I don't think people know what a huge importance this is because pollen is also associated with allergies, which people also hate. I agree with both of you that some kind of further awareness of just how important pollination by bees is needed. We are using up practically every square inch of usable land for population development. Bees no longer pollinate mostly in woodlands away from the general public, they pollinate right in our backyards. Education is key!
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    May 21 2013: "The Urban Beehive" is a concept that was put forward by Philips in 2011. Check it out: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/sites/philipsdesign/about/design/designportfolio/design_futures/urban_beehive.page

    I think it is useful as an educational tool for understanding bee life, if for nothing else. Maybe if Philips could scale the product up so that it was more than just a personal zoo?

    One of its main selling points is that it looks sexy. While that isn't necessarily a motivator for me to buy it, perhaps the "hip look" of such a product is necessary for bringing in crowds who may not be on board with "messy" outdoor bee keeping.
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      May 21 2013: Wow that is an interesting contraption. They definitely designed the hell out of it to look good, but from what I can tell it seems it has been designed with humans in mind rather than bees. It's a cool idea but appears to be fairly impractical.
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    May 21 2013: I think this is both possible and a great idea. I agree with those who have previously said that it is important for us to also be looking into what the root of the problem is, but feel that the role bees play is so important that maintaining colonies in whatever habitat they will survive in is imperative. From the research I have seen it sounds as if the most likely cause of the collapse is pesticides. Because pesticides impact the worlds biodiversity, the human population, and our agricultural ecosystems in a largely negative way, I personally think we should move away from pesticide use as much as we can. For example reducing pesticide use through supporting urban organic agriculture and small local organic farms. As far as the downsides of urban beehives I don't think that people would really even notice a difference as long as the hives were located in appropriate areas, and as I have always been taught if you don't bother them, they won't bother you.
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      May 22 2013: I agree and think that development and increase in urban beehives is a very intriguing and hopeful idea. Definitely would be a step in the right direction, but I also agree with previous comments that point out it is not necessarily a solution but rather one path to begin to address this massive population collapse. We can’t overlook the fact that there is a much bigger dilemma and we do not have full understanding of the causes behind population collapses or the extent of the implications associated with the population declines. Additionally I feel it is important to look past potential food/pollination decreases and consider what this might say about the overall health of ecosystems. It is always easier stated than solved, but as a community we need to take huge strides to change agriculture practices that are detrimental to biodiversity and healthy/natural interactions amongst organisms.
      On a lighter note here is some local news about bee farming in Eugene and current developments:
      http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/29712235-75/bees-bee-beekeepers-beekeeping-glorybee.html.csp
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    Eun Min

    • +2
    May 21 2013: It is possible, but not sure for the health issues and safety. Yes, honey bees are so important in food production that "A third of all our food is pollinated by honey bees (1)." Without bees, agriculture would not succeed which means no vegetables, fruits, and grains leading increase in prices. Natural honey is widely used as folk medicine that the use of natural honey as a nutraceutical agent is associated with nutritional benefits and therapeutic promises (2). Despite these benefits, having urban beehives might be dangerous (what if one gets stung) or give some people a bad allergic reaction.
    While I was search about honey bee, I found a interesting article (tips on how to start urban bee hive) (3). I am surprised that bees and hives are commercially available to anyone. However, people who want to have urban beehive need to learn how to regulate the bees and protect others from the bees. What if the bees attack people especially children? Honey bees built a hive on my roof two years ago which was scary and the bees tried to attack my family whoever they see near by the hive.

    (1) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57577668/deepening-honey-bee-crisis-creates-worry-over-food-supply/
    (2)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716101
    (3) http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-livestock/bee-keeping/start-beehive.aspx
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      May 21 2013: I spent some time trying to find specific studies about the risks of beekeeping and couldn't find anything good. I appreciate your anecdote but do you know for sure that they were honeybees? Is it possible that they were wasps or yellow jackets? From what I've read, it sounds like honey bees are pretty docile.
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        May 21 2013: I found an article that talks about some risks and how to avoid them. The first aspect they discussed was making sure you have all the legal aspects taken care of before beginning an urban beehive project. Some homeowners insurances do not cover beekeeping and even risk being cancelled, so it is important to address this before getting started. Other possible legal issues could arise from bee waste, which is acidic and will take the paint off cars, sides of houses or stain clothes on a clothes line. Or what if your neighbors dog is stung and has to get medical treatment? Who is liable then? Another point they made that I hadn't considered was the amount of water used by a colony of bees. A colony needs over a gallon of water per day and if you don't provide this then issues could arise from the bees using water sources elsewhere such as peoples pools, birdbaths, sprinklers, etc. However, these seem like minor risks that can be managed by providing the colony with everything they need and locating them in an area that minimizes interactions with people.
        http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/avoiding-urban-beekeeping-problems.aspx#axzz2Twx38nJz
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          Eun Min

          • +1
          May 22 2013: Wow! Thank you for all the information. I haven't heard about the need of water and creating acidic environment! As you pointed out, I worry about being stung especially children and babies.
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      May 21 2013: The possibility of colony infestations is a large problem when homes are living in previously natural environments. However, i think that these installations of bee colonies might help to subdue random colonies from appearing. if we are giving bees a place to congregate especially on high roofs of urban city buildings then they will be more inclined to stay near their colonies and away from other residential areas. Yes they will still be present and could threaten people or children, but these dangers are present for every thing and that's why in cities we would have good regulation of bee colonies and keeping them located in safe locations away from large groups of people and especially children.
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        May 21 2013: I think it’s very important to create a more robust beekeeping industry in the United States. It’s very hard to pin point one key reason for colony collapse disorder due to an assortment of many threatening factors. Multiple factors harm bee colony health creating compounding effects leading to collapse. There is increased loss due to Varroa mite and diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus. These however, might be natural occurrences to keep population sizes in check. The real issues may be from human caused disturbances and pesticide use. Foreign chemicals sprayed on plants and flowers expose bees to poisons causing decreased fitness and physiological problems. Humans also can be blamed for habitat fragmentation as well as habitat loss. Bees may be able to cope with a few of these problems before the stresses become too great to sustain a healthy colony. Although we can name factors that hurt colony health there is no consensus on what causes this collapse disorder, just speculation. I think that before we implement specific strategies for “saving the bees” we need to do more research on which factors impact colony health the most.
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    May 21 2013: I think that development of bee hives in urban environments is a great idea. However, I think it isn't the first goal we ought to be taking. I feel that it is more of an attempt at alleviate the symptoms of the problem rather than cure it. (Kind of like medicine amirite?)

    The problem is the alarming rate at which bee populations are declining. Obviously, this isn't due to some voodoo curse put upon the bees by an Aztec shaman. There is a real reason behind this occurrence and it is likely a man-made substance or product.

    The E.U. has moved forward on its ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids "are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine." They have been used in the last decade as a potent insecticide that were selected due to their diminished toxicity in mammals.

    Still as with many chemicals, there a many side effects that were down-played by the companies pushing their production and sale. Recent studies have revealed that these pesticides pose a significant risk to honey bee populations and are likely the culprit behind the rapidly declining populations. The bee genus is cosmopolitan and bees play a HUGE role in pollinating plants worldwide. The loss of bees means a decreased ability for plants to cross pollinating, ultimately resulting in a decrease in biodiversity.

    What we need is for US departments that are in charge of pesticide regulation to implement strategies that are effective at minimizing risks to bees. The US EPA has declared a "reregistration" of these pesticides in the US. Essentially, they announced that pending a huge amount of paperwork and insufferable bureaucracy, something might happen. This is ultimately a futile strategy. The US government needs to ban the pesticides NOW and then reintroduce the ones that are deemed safe. We don't have any time to waste; the clock is ticking.

    I would imagine that the urban beekeeing operations might help but they do not eliminate the source of the problem.
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    May 21 2013: I think it would be possible for the US to develop an urban beekeeping industry if there truly was a demand for it. However, it is currently illegal in many cities do to the potential risks associated with bee-sting allergies. I find this to be ridiculous, as the potential benefit of producing food in your own backyard outweigh the unsustainable practice of shipping food thousands of miles from farms to cities

    But changing the agricultural practice we use would be a very slow process. Redesigning urban façades around the U.S., implementing green roofs, and changing city code to allow beehives within cities would be a long process that needs input from the constituency for it to be politically feasible.

    Thus, it may be better to first understand why CCD is occurring to preserve the managed/unmanaged hives that we have. Honeybees themselves enable the production of 90 commercially grown crops. With their rapidly declining numbers, we really need improve information gathering as to why they are declining first, before we move to a more sustainable practice of urban beehives and urban farms.
    • May 21 2013: Yup. I'm on board with the Idea of preserving the colonies we have and agree that we need to find what is causing the CCD. I think its best to try and figure out what happening with the bees we do have left, like you said, before moving on to things like the urban farms. Granted I think that there will most likely be a need for them down the road. I think it is vital to help the ones we do have now and figure out what is destroying them now. I just think that if we put all efforts into into the urban farms will the CCD just move to those farms from the hives we have now if they aren't taken care of?
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    May 21 2013: It might be a tough sell to some of the more prissy (think calif) cities. But what is there to lose bring on the apiaries, if it increases the health of the bees that trumps the rest.
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    May 21 2013: I'm not sure that urban beekeeping is the answer for this because I think that instead of trying to produce more bee colonies we need to first put more efforts in researching the cause of this unknown phenomenon. One possible cause of these colony collapses is the use of a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids that Europe has recently banned in a preventative effort for the bees, but the US has claimed there is not enough evidence that these pesticides are the cause so they have not been banned. I think we need to err on the side of caution since these insects help produce the majority of the world's food and if there is any evidence that something might be causing their collapse then we should do whatever it takes to stop it from happening. Instead of considering these pesticides innocent until proven guilty I think we should encourage the government to enact a precautionary ban until we know exactly what is going on, since billions of people depend on these bees for food.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/02/us-bee-report-pesticide-eu
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      May 21 2013: I agree that more research must be done before we can successfully solve the problem of colony collapse. It seems very likely that there is a link between pesticide use and CCD, but colony collapses have occurred numerous times throughout the past millennium. Ireland had a high number of bee mortality in 950, 992 and 1443 and in Utah in 1903 (1). It is also interesting that there have been a large number of colony collapses in Europe where there has been less pesticide use historically.

      I think that before we introduce colonies of bees into urban centers, we must first rehabilitate existing colonies near agricultural lands. This can possibly be done by reducing monocultures and the creation of recovery zones with high-nectare plants (2). Massive changes in the biodiversity of cities must first take place before we introduce urban colonies or they too will be unsuccessful.

      (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892840/
      (2) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7739798.stm
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        May 21 2013: I definitely agree that major changes need to occur in agriculture to help these bee colonies, whether that will happen with the huge corporate power that food production companies maintain is up for debate.
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        May 21 2013: I totally agree with your point that the rehabilitation of colonies near agricultural centers should take priority. While the fact that the health of bees seems to improve after moving them into urban environments, that strategy has the clear side effect of eliminating one of the most prolific pollinators around. It's definitely important to think about helping the bees themselves, but I think that the more important issue here is helping the bees so that they can continue helping plants, agricultural and otherwise, proliferate.
        So as said by many other people so far, I think that moving bees away from the countryside where they are needed is the wrong approach and instead we should be focusing on understanding CCD, since so far close to nothing is known definitively.

        Edit: I just did a little more digging into the potential economic costs of CCD for farmers and found a dollar value of the crops lost from less honeybees around at $15 billion directly and $75 from indirect effects (2). This estimation was put forward in 2007 by the Secretary of Agriculture at the time, and I have to think that as this problem has worsened, that number has only gone up.

        1) http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/
        2) http://www.envirovaluation.org/2012/01/colony-collapse-disorder-market.html
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          May 21 2013: Many scientists believe that CCD is directly the result of neonicotinoid toxicity.

          We need to follow in the progressive footsteps of our European cousins and tackle this issue before it spirals out of control.

          The introduction of bees to urban environments is probably successful because there are fewer pesticides in the local environment. Bees might help with pollination in the city environment but their maximum efficiency is only achieved in open fields and large tracks of vegetation, their native grounds. [Here are sources I couldn't include in my original post due to character limits]

          European conclusion:
          European Food Safety Authority (16 January 2013) "Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance clothianidin" EFSA Journal 11(1):3066

          Neonicotinoids mechanism:
          Matsuda K, Buckingham SD, Kleier D, Rauh JJ, Grauso M, and Sattelle DB (2001) Neonicotinoids: insecticides acting on insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Trends Pharmacol Sci 22 573-580.

          The huge risks to bees’ immune systems from these pesticides:
          Tennekes, Henk A. (2010). "The significance of the Druckrey–Küpfmüller equation for risk assessment—The toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to arthropods is reinforced by exposure time". Toxicology 276 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2010.07.005. PMID 20803795.

          The effect of neonicotinoids on bee memory: (The bees forget were the hive is and die)
          Williamson, Sally M.; Geraldine A. Wright (7 February 2013). "Exposure to multiple cholinergic pesticides impairs olfactory learning and memory in honeybees". Journal of Experimental Biology 216 (10): 1799. doi:10.1242/jeb.083931.
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          May 21 2013: Hi Erik,
          The original idea didn't actually intend on moving bees away from the rural areas in which they are so desperately needed, rather it was to increase the number of colonies altogether by starting new ones in urban environments. I realize that this doesn't solve the problem of CCD, but it will still alleviate some of the stressors on the total population of honey bees.
          Meanwhile, I think it is important for more research to be done on the harsh pesticides that are used in rural areas (as Ben mentioned above) and what we can be doing to reduce the effects we are having on the bees.
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      May 21 2013: Wow... I just read your post and I pretty much left the same exact comment. Great minds think alike! (or maybe we both read Reddit)
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    May 22 2013: I think Urban beekeeping is a great possible solution to increasing pollination and keeping the food industry alive and thriving but there is this great stigma that bees are bad. I follow into that too. I dislike getting stung so I dislike the idea of bees. We need to somehow help the greater of the United States and the world recognize the impact and benefits of bees to reduce this negative stigma and then more people may be more receptive to having managed bee hives in urban settings. My boyfriend recently took a beekeeping class and wants to put a beehive in the backyard. I was resistant at first but now that I have read literature and read comments on this TED conversation I have changed my thinking and am now encouraging him to get the hive.
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    May 22 2013: Revitalizing pollinators is key to keeping diversity in our food production. The overall biodiversity of ecosystems often depends on the diversity of its pollinators, so why just stop at bees? Honey bees are the poster-children for pollination, however, domestic honey bee colonies are usually only European honey bees. If we were to cultivate the urban honey bee idea using traditional bee keeping practices, it would severely limit the diversity of the crops because they are only being pollinated by a single species of one type of pollinator. Conversely, it would be extremely unlikely to propagate every single pollinator species know to man and expect them all to coexist and pollinate effectively. We should pick a few species that show high rates of pollination success and who also compete well with one another. Before jumping right to honey bees, we should also consider other important pollinators like moths, flys, and birds.
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    May 22 2013: Wow Carly, such great questions you are asking! This is a sad but informative topic. I learned so much from watching the TED Talk posted. I'll be sure to do lots more research on urban beekeeping around my own town. And I have seen so many wonderfully formulated responses to this TED Conversation. Such a positive, and brilliant set of minds that have responded to your wonderful questions.

    God bless!

    -Todd C.
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      May 22 2013: Thanks Todd! It is a really important topic that not very many people are informed about. The discussion is actually for a class but what interested me was the simple fact that honey bee populations are on the decline. When I realized I had no idea why, I knew that a lot of other people probably didn't either and it's obviously an important thing that needs to be discussed. Thanks for your input!
  • May 22 2013: From the Carvalheiro paper, "Natural and within farmland biodiversity enhances crop productivity," we read how increased plant diversity has a positive correlation with flower pollination and distancing from "natural habitats" working vice-versa. Data from Wilson-Rich's TEDtalk states that urban bees have higher honey yield than do country bees. I would then be led to believe Carvalheiro's "natural habitats" are simply referring to non-agricultural land, gaining support from general dispersal patterns, which hypothesize alpha-diversity will be greater within urban areas than rural. If "natural habitat" referred to areas uninhabited by humans or one with a close representation of once native species, we could expect to see no difference in urban and rural bee honey production -- I think in scientific context "natural" is WAY to ambiguous to be used as a general term... just had to get that off my chest.

    Nevertheless, this idea of "natural habitat" vs. "high-plant-diversity habitat" in regards to pollination and honey-production rates brings about another question: are high honey-production rates in urban areas a result of more than just high biodiversity and would urban bee-keeping significantly increase pollination rates?

    If bees produce honey as a food reserve, could the increased honey production in cities be result of environmental factors greater than high biodiversity? Affects of global warming heat cities faster than rural areas and seasonality of fresh food-sources in cities will not be the same as that of a "natural" habitat and probably greater; so therefore, I would think, less reason to store food reserves. Also, I would assume that in areas with more non-native species (i.e. cities), nectar robbing could likely be more common reducing the ratio of flowers pollinated to honey produced. So not that I dislike the idea of urban honey bees, but I see a chance overall affects to food production could yield diminishing returns.
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    May 21 2013: It's is obvious that we need bees more than they need us! I think that the United States should definitely develop some kind of urban beekeeping industry. Why wouldn't the people of this nation not want to do anything in their power to save these number one insects who ensure our food production is at its maximum. As said in previous comments, pollinators like bees increase the production of our leading crops. To answer the question asking if the positive outcomes for the urban beekeeping industry will out weigh the negatives my answer would be...can we risk not doing anything to save these important factors for food production in the future ? What will happen if bees do go extinct to the food production because of our exponential human growth ?
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      May 22 2013: That's definitely a good point. It's not as though we have a choice about whether to produce more food, global population is continuing to grow steadily. We'll need to do everything we can to produce adequate food, so by helping the bees we can really help ourselves!
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    May 21 2013: I think that we should do anything possible to ensure the survival of bees. Honeybees are the most economically valuable pollinators of crop monocultures worldwide. Production of the majority of leading crops increases with pollinating animals. In aggregate, these crops account for 35% of global food production (Klein et al, 2006). Therefore, colony survival is imperative.
    It has been shown that honeybees are more beneficial pollinators when diverse species of ruderal flowers are present, even when the bees are far from their natural habitat (Calvaheiro et al, 2011) (which would be the urban environment in this case.) If these flowers are allowed to grow on green roofs, I think it will help sustain bees and allow for a wide range of movement. I definitely think that the potential positive outcomes of urban beehives outweigh the negative, since bees play such a crucial role in crop production.
  • May 21 2013: Another benefit from local bee hives is alergy reduction. I teaspoon of local honey a day and my alergies are almost gone.
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      May 22 2013: Actually, I've heard a lot about bee honey and pollen in terms of allergy reduction and I think this is definitely something worth exploring as a pro for urban beehives. While there hasn't really been any real research done into the benefits of local honey in treating allergies, I personally have noticed a difference in mine after eating honey bought from a local farmer's market, and there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence. It would make sense that local honey would help with a specific region's allergy symptoms as the pollen in the air is the same used in the local honey. It would be very beneficial, I'm sure, knowing how many people suffer from minor springtime allergies and hay fever.

      Here's a link to an article about honey and allergies:
      http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/allergies/allergy-treatments/local-honey-for-allergies2.htm
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      May 22 2013: I heard about this idea last year after I had a really bad allergy problem, and I have to say that it definitely works for me as well. I think a lot more people could benefit from local honey as an allergy reducer, especially here in Eugene where spring pollen counts are higher than most of the country.
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      May 22 2013: I too have terrible grass allergies, compounded by living in the grass seed capital of the world, and have heard that local honey can help that, so for the past year i've been going through it by the jar. It seems it may be helping, today and yesterday have been the first days my allergies have been extra-bad this year, so that could be something, but I still need to see how I hold up over the summer before I'm completely convinced...
      • May 22 2013: It needs to start before the season and bee (pun intended) consistent.
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    May 21 2013: I definitely think its possible for the US to have an urban beekeeping industry but we have some work to do before it will be globally successful. As a biology student, I have the understanding and knowledge to appreciate how important bees are for pollination, the environment, and biodiversity. But do a majority of people also have this understanding? From personal experience, I highly doubt the value of bees is well understood. I think the best way to get this project rolling on a global level is to educate people. Social media and mass media could play a major role in the transformation of people's ideas about bees. This may be ignorant but most people are afraid of bees because they could get stung or they are allergic. If the state governments offered an income property tax discount for those that install bee hives in the environment, more people may be inclined to have one of these urban beehives.
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      Eun Min

      • +2
      May 21 2013: I agree with you that many people do not know the value of the bees. Without honey bees, we do not have food! some people would not even care as you said.
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      May 21 2013: Thats a great idea. Economic incentives to those that are willing to have the beehives is a great way to get people to want to install them into their homes. Over all education to the general public about bees is lacking I agree, and I also think that targeting social media outlets to educate the public the importance of bees is probably the best way to get people to learn. More people use facebook and twitter everyday to get their news updates so if they saw something about the bees as an update or a tweet I think it would be a great way to target mass audience. As far as bee allergies are concerned, how are people treated for this? Is it an Epi-pen? I think reaching out to the people who have bee allergies is going to be the hardest people to convince about the importance of the urban bee farms.
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        May 22 2013: I agree, good post. The economic incentives seem like a great idea to get the ball rolling in changing the public's perception of bees, it will seem like a smart idea to keep bees around. Additionally, yes, viral marketing via social media about bees could convert people over to the "bee" side even faster than we might think!

        Yes, people allergic to bees typically carry epi-pens if they think they're at risk, or at least they're supposed to- according to webMD at least. However, webMD also said that half of the people who die from bee stings did not know they were allergic! That could be a problem, so perhaps if urban beehives become widespread, the public should be encouraged to test themselves for bee allergies, carry an epi-pen if needed, taught how to avoid stings, and just how to behave around bees in general.
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    May 22 2013: I think urban beekeeping industry is possible if people make plan to provide safe places for bees to make the beehives and if some allergic people protect themselves from being attacked by bees. So, the urban beekeeping industry helps to increase the population of honeybees. However, I am curious if the urban beekeeping industry will increase food production. As we already know, bees are helpful pollinator, and of course they can help plants to pollinate and produce fruits. But, this beneficial mechanism helped by the bees will be limited in urban, that is, it will not helpful for plants on other places where occupy most portions of food-producing area. It is because most of farms are not located in urban and bees do not move far away from the hives. Therefore, they will not work as pollinators for plants in suburban and countryside and will not increase food production effectively.