bees and corporate power

Sunday reflection: The corporate power problem and western honey bees

I have been blogging for a number of years already. When everything started in 2008 I was a sustainability professional and loved my job. I am still a huge believer in out sustainable future and that we can achieve a sustainable future. But one aspect of our sustainability journey is still one of the biggest problems: The corporate power grip on our global food production.

I am in the process of reading the book “The Green Lie” and I am shocked to say the least of what corporations across the globe do to sell us that they are more sustainable than ever before. I am sure the documentary will be a great eye opener for many people but there is much more to do to make everyone more aware of what corporate power does to our sustainable future.

Here is one example you might not have heard of before. And since it is one close to my heart I wanted to mention it here.

The western honey and the Varroa mite

I am beekeeper that is just getting started with my own western honey bees here in Germany. The biggest problem with keeping western honey bees is the Varroa mite. It is a disease that could have been controlled before it actually spread to effect basically all bee populations across the globe since the 1960’s. Without human chemical treatment this Varroa mite would kill any western honey bee hive within 12 months. Asian honey bees are able to fight the Varroa mite by cleaning each other and therefore controlling the mite outbreak to the extent that is will pass and not effect the overall health of the hive. The main western honey bee (Apis mellifera) does not know this defence technique. Given time beekeepers around the world are sure these western honey bees would develop a natural mechanism to get rid of the Varroa mite. The big problem we have is that our consumption habits are so in-tune with the continuous production of honey that beekeepers around the world do not even try to give the honey bees the time to naturally develop a defence against Varroa.

The corporate power hinders progress

And the reason is clear. If we would start to give honey bees the time develop a natural defence we would have no more honey really. 95+% of our honey bees would die and only the surviving bee hives would be able to form the base of our new generation of western honey bees. Imagine not having honey in your supermarket shelf? And it gets even worse. Imagine 80% of our natural pollinators, which honey bees are, would disappear within 12 months. Our global food production would be in serious trouble. I believe we as western consumers could live without honey and a limited amount of food varieties of food for a few years but corporations could not. Corporations would run amok to say the least if we would turn global food players monopoly on its head. I believe an idea like this would not even pass the first stage of public discussions because corporations would undermine this process with all possible tools. This topic is so extensive that it surely goes beyond this blog post. All I want is for you to imagine what this would mean for corporations control of our food production including honey. Unimaginable.

I am not overly negative I believe but this is the reality in my view. Corporations especially global corporations have too much power. And we as consumers need to make sure this changes. We must foster change. If not for us but please for our children. And the example of the western honey bee is just one of many, many others!

Have a good Sunday everyone!

Picture Credit: “bees oby ocmorelos, licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0original source via 500px

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