The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Take care or we might get stung

Colony collapse disorder puts our food chain in danger but a few urban farmers are working to prevent it

Amy Lawrence | Guest Writer
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According to Hollywood bee wrangler, Guinness World Record holder for most bees held in the mouth (109) and University of California, Davis entomology Professor Dr. Norman Gary, one third of commonly eaten foods require honey bee pollination.

Our diet’s dependence on honeybees is why Gary is such a proponent of urban bee keeping.

About 600,000 of America’s 2.6 million honeybee colonies have recently vanished for unknown reasons. The phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder.

“It’s a great threat to agriculture in general,” Gary says.

According to City College biology professor David Wyatt, California depends on honeybee pollination for half of its agriculture.

Recent research has led scientists to theorize that CCD is caused by parasites, unknown diseases, lack of nutrition and pesticides.

Local hobby beekeepers, John Foster and vice president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association, David Ogden, are doing what they can to help honeybees survive. They attend monthly meetings and compare information, hoping to learn as much as they can about these fascinating insects.
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“We furnish them a place to live that is safe, clean and disease free and we get a little bit of a dividend — we get a honey payoff,” Foster says.

Beyond honey, beekeeping has other payoffs for people who become weary of busy urban environments.

“It’s like a touch of agriculture in your backyard,” says local beekeeper and owner of Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, Nancy Stewart. She has worked with bees ever since 1984 when she and her husband decided to open their own beekeeping supplies store. For about $350, one can have his or her own beginner’s bee hive. This includes any starting equipment and 3 pounds of bees and a queen. During spring, a beekeeper should check on how his or her bees are doing every 7 to 10 days. As fall approaches, it’s important to make sure the bees are well fed, so they will reproduce successfully the following spring.

You don’t have to break a world record, become a commercial beekeeper, or start a beekeeping organization to make a difference in the lives of these little pollinators.

There are several ways you can help that require less time and energy. One way is to provide food (nectar and pollen) for bees by growing plants that honey bees are attracted to. If you don’t have a home garden, you can also contribute to a community garden. Avoid spraying insecticides that will kill them. Furthermore, you can help increase the funding for honey bee research by writing letters to senators and representatives in Congress. Sacramento’s congresswoman is Doris Matsui. By performing one or more of these tasks, you’ll be helping to preserve lives of the insects that make sure we’re fed.

The awareness factor is a huge thing,” Wyatt says.

City College offers an entomology class where colony collapse disorder is lightly addressed, and natural history of insects heavily addresses the role of honeybees in our lives, both taught by Wyatt.

For more information visit or attend meetings of beekeepers that are held every third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Belle Cooledge Community Center (South Land Park Drive and Fruitridge Boulevard) in Sacramento.

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