Love Thy Pollineighbor – December 2016/January 2017

In October, two girlfriends swept me away to a swank resort in Arizona for an early milestone (more like mileboulder) birthday celebration. I felt loved and pampered. Miravel offers top-notch service with fine accommodations and accoutrements tending to all of life’s comforts. Evening landscapes are replete with stunning high-desert sage airbrushed against luminous magenta sunsets. Divine.

What impressed me most about Miravel was its focus on sustainability and its seamless integration into the environment: building designs that blend into the landscape, a water reclamation facility that turns 50,000 gallons of wastewater, daily, into potable drinking water, and a zero synthetic chemical spray policy as demonstrated by the countless happy butterflies, bees and birds flitting about.

Miravel has an apiary run by a certified sommelier, Noel Patterson. I took Patterson’s class and learned about his holistic treatment-free beekeeping and harvesting methods.

Patterson believes that a bare minimum of manipulation helps bees recreate their natural system. He discussed how the beekeeper’s practices are paramount to a hive’s success and that poor practices are a major cause of bee decline sharing culpability with industrialized agriculture’s exploitation of pesticides and monoculture farming.

Patterson compared industrialized farming to modern day beekeeping methods turning bees into factory-farmed livestock or machines, processing them for profit over protection. This means bees are inoculated, sprayed, and manipulated in a way that does not work with their natural system or biodiversity. In this sense, bees have become a disposable commodity.

Knowing that pollinators, particularly bees, are responsible for one of three bites of the food we eat, Patterson takes a different approach. His work focuses on helping bees build their own natural immunity by disturbing them as infrequently as possible. For instance, because honey is a bee’s food storage for when plants aren’t flowering, he ensures his hives’ success by harvesting only the excess honey produced keeping the larger stash for the bees.

With solid management practices, bees build resiliency. His hands-off approach includes a no-chemical philosophy. Patterson uses no chemicals—at all—neither synthetic nor organic, on his bees. His busy bees are thriving.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I share Patterson’s viewpoint and ambitions about working with rather than against biodiversity’s natural system. I will be writing more about this and how we, as our small community within the larger global context, have an opportunity to help Mother Nature by reducing or eliminating our use of synthetic pesticides. In February, there is an exciting event that will address this very topic.

Save the Date!—February 11, 2017, 9:00am-4:00pm. Protecting Pollinators: The Benefits for Ecosystems and Food Security in Oregon. The state-wide nonprofit Beyond Toxics along with Pollinator Project Rogue Valley and OSU Extension are hosting a forum for the general public.

Local and national experts will convene for this important conference offering lectures and panels on native pollinators, ecosystems, pesticides, and safer practices that protect pollinator and human health.

Location: OSU Extension in Central Point. Admission: $10 pre-registered, $15 at door.

Register here!