Brock talk on our need for bees
It’s a retirement project favoured by such literary legends as Sherlock Holmes — and a hobby that could be key to keeping Canadians in cauliflower and kiwis.
That’s the message from Werner Gysi, who is in the city on Wednesday, April 25, to encourage the Kamloops Adult Learners Society to take up holistic beekeeping.
“We have to understand that the bees are a very vital link between us and the food chain because 30 per cent of our food is directly dependent on insects and, in particular, the bees,” said Gysi, who is planning to cross the country this spring and summer on a self-described “mission to save the bees.”
Bee stocks in North America have been on the decline for much of the last decade, a phenomenon known as colony collapse — in which a hive’s worker bees suddenly disappear.
While various theories exist about why bees are dying off, Gysi pointed to a combination of pesticide use, reliance on antibiotics and other commercial farming measures that “pamper the bees,” making them less hardy.
“The commercial beekeeper in particular is just replacing his bees with bees from somewhere else each year,” Gysi said.
“That’s not sustainable at all.”
Gysi’s own holistic method has a bit in common with organic farming, in the sense that chemicals don’t come into play.
But, he said, it also requires beekeepers to develop a connection with their buzzing insects so they know instinctively what the bees need to stay viable.
“When you do organic farming, you can have your crop and you are the farmer and there’s no connection between the two,” he said.
“When you do it in the holistic way, you have certain principles.”
While it’s not a method he would expect a commercial beekeeper with hundreds of hives to use, Gysi said his style can work for someone keeping up to 50 hives, or as few as one or two.
Even a small number of hives will make a difference to the health of B.C.’s bee population, he said, adding bees can be a backyard project — depending on the size of the yard.
Gysi’s own beekeeping method has evolved since he inherited a bee house from a neighbour more than three decades ago.
“It was a disastrous start. I had no clue, so I got stung quite a few times. But, I didn’t give up,” he said.
“It is a skill but, once you have it, like with everything else, then you can do that.”
Gysi’s talk runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, April 25, in the Seniors’ Activity Centre at the Brock Shopping Mall on Tranquille Road.
Admission is free for all retirees and seniors.