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Exploring Ecopsychology: BEE-ginner Beekeeping

Updated: Jan 11


Welcome to our first post in a series of BEE-ginner Beekeeping! Join along as we launch our first American beehives and show you step by step what is needed to support your local habitat and strengthen biodiversity! We launched our first German beehives about 5 years ago and now manage over 30,000 bees!

Bees in action- helpful pollinators

BEE-ginner Beekeeping Background and setting intentions


But first, why so much buzzzzz about bees?


Bees are an important pollinator and regarded as the third most important production animal – after cattle and pigs! Scientists are seeing an alarming decline in bee populations worldwide. Half of the 570 species of wild bees in Germany are at risk of extinction and Beekeepers across the United States lost 45.5% of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021 (Woods, 2021).


The bees need our help!


What are pollinators?

Pollinators keep our world running, sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources. Around 80 percent of plants in Germany rely on pollination by bees and somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators (Ollerton, 2011).


Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. That means that 1 out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators! Learn more about our passion for pollinators here!



Due to the use of large scale monocultures and the use of crop pesticides in conventional agriculture, bee populations are on the decline worldwide. Within Germany, half of the 570 or so species of wild bees at risk of extinction. To counter some of the large scale industrial monoculture practices, we are fans of polyculture and permaculture gardens. Locally we see monoculture industrial production of rapeseed oil, wine, grain, strawberries, asparagus and more.


Bees in action- helpful pollinators

Bee Protection

In 2018 Germany supported the EU’s decision to ban neonicotinoids, a group of bee-harming pesticides, in outdoor cultivation. In addition, it is not permitted in Germany to sow rapeseed, corn and grain seeds that have been treated with these pesticides. The controversial pesticide glyphosate is also to be banned permanently from fields in Germany.



Conversely, neonicotinoids are used on hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. agricultural land. They can be directly sprayed or injected and are very commonly used as coatings on seeds planted on hundreds of millions of acres each year. As systemic insecticides, they’re absorbed by plants, making the entire plant deadly, including its nectar, pollen and fruit. They can persist in soil for years. (Burd, 2021). Neonicotinoids are the most popular insecticides used in the United States. Hundreds of studies have shown they play a major role in population-level declines of bees, birds, butterflies and freshwater invertebrates.



Authors of a major scientific review of the catastrophic decline of insects have said that a “serious reduction in pesticide usage” is key to preventing the extinction of up to 41% of the world’s insects in the next few decades. “Bees are vital to the system”, stated German agricultural minister Julia Klöckner in her declaration to support the ban of insecticides.

How can we help the Bees?


Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular across Germany and USA, and there is a boom in urban beekeeping. Follow along with our established Schwarzwald hives and as we establish a new colony of bees with SchaeFerland in the White Mountains of New Hampshire- Bee-ginner Beekeeping.


Beekeeping: Gearing up to check out our Schwarzwald Hives


If hobby beekeeping is too much effort at this time, consider planting some local pollinators! It helps the local ecosystem thrive and support good bio-diversity! Local pollinators are just that- local! Check out what's happening in your growing region and how to best support your local permaculture! Need some ideas? Check out our post on Dandelions and why it’s one of our favorite pollinators!



SEELEDU is passionate about teaching you to connect in and with nature. As active homesteaders and practicing ecopsychologists, one of our favorite tools to connect is through home, community or school gardens. Justine Ferland, the founder of SEELEDU, lives in accordance with ecopsychological beliefs. She encourages a local slow food movement, leading and assisting in community gardens and agricultural practices. Justine celebrates the local cultural and native histories seeking out knowledge from native practice experts, local forest managers, horticultural experts, conservationists, scientists, topic experts and more. Justine’s family in America and Germany also live in accordance with these beliefs as homesteaders and business leaders using design to help solve problems that can lower our environmental impact.


SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.


References


Ollerton J, Winfree R, and Tarrant S (2011) How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals? Oikos 120:321-326.


(2018). Small creatures with a big impact. deutschland.de:


Sanchez-Bayo, F., Wyckhuys, K.A.G. (2019). Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biologial Conservation. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320718313636


Woods, J. (2021). US beekeepers continue to report high colony loss rates, no clear progression toward improvement. Auburn University: College of Agriculture.



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