Earth Solutions's Blog

Where’s the Buzz? Saving the Bees with Aquaponic Gardening

Posted in 1 by drdave on September 22, 2009

Where’s the Buzz? Saving the Bees with Aquaponic Gardening

S. Corey Thomas


For many backyard gardeners, the familiar sight of honeybees buzzing about the blossoms has been troublingly absent in recent years. Since 2006, a mysterious syndrome called colony collapse disorder (CCD) has taken a heavy toll on bee populations around the world. Though they have many theories, scientists are still unsure of the primary culprit behind the mass disappearances.

A new documentary airing on the Planet Green network takes a closer look at the precarious state of honeybees and their human handlers. The Last Beekeeper follows three American apiarists struggling to weather the hardships of collapsing colonies in a depressed global economy. At stake are not only the livelihoods of the beleaguered beekeepers, but also the harvests of a wide array of fruits, vegetables and nuts that stock our pantries. Foods from strawberries to almonds rely entirely on the nomadic bees, trucked across long distances on flatbed trailers to pollinate the seasonal crops.

Colony collapse disorder brings to light just how vulnerable and unnatural we’ve allowed our centralized food production to become. Without the annual transportation of thousands of beehives across the country, many crops would never yield their fruits and grocery store shelves could quickly go bare. Monoculture farming and urban sprawl have added further stress to honeybee populations, eliminating the diverse, wild habitats that support pollinator insects naturally.

Aquaponics provides a sensible solution to many of these problems. By localizing food production in our own communities, we can ensure our connection to sustenance in times of uncertainty. Including bee-favored plants such as rosemary, lavender, and oregano in our aquaponic gardens helps to attract and support native honeybee populations, which in turn keep the plants healthy and fruitful. And as we recently discovered in the large system in Dr. Dave’s backyard, these aquatic ecosystems can double as a cheerful watering hole for thirsty bees!

The symbiotic relationships established in aquaponics – from fish to plants to helpful insects – are complex, and endlessly surprising. By modeling our gardens on nature, we avoid the pitfalls of a collapsing industrial culture, beehives and all, while benefiting from all the wisdom of the earth.

Check out this video of busy honeybees stopping by Dr. Dave’s aquaponic garden for a drink:


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