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Beeing Gregg-The Bee Guru

by Robbie - January 18th, 2011.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Yesterday I interviewed The Bee Guru, Gregg McMahan, a guy who knows how to save the bees.

1 out of every 3 things on your plate would not exist without bees. The bees are in peril.  And Gregg, an expert in beekeeping, bee rescue and bee education among other things, is passionately optimistic about this situation.

Systemic pesticides and the pesticide IMD are causing massive harm to bees, according to commercial beekeepers interviewed in the film “The Vanishing Of The Bees” and also according to Gregg. We need commercial beekeepers; without them hauling their hives from Florida to California and to Maine we don’t have almonds, blueberries or other crops in the same availability. Commercial bee keepers are caught in a struggle to keep bees alive using antibiotics and other measures, including queen breeding and artificially inseminated queens (which are thought to narrow bee gene pools) to manipulate bee populations artificially.  Gregg agrees that these are necessary measures. “I don’t judge commercial beekeepers” says Gregg,”We need them and they are stuck in a cycle,” Commercial beekeepers are caught in the cycle of compensation for monoculture, which is the state of modern farming.  Growing acres of a single crop presents challenges for farmers and beekeepers, and the insecticides necessary in monoculture seem to be harming the bees.  In the film “The Vanishing Of The Bees” beekeeper David Mendes states, “We are fighting a war,”

What’s to be done in this dire situation?

Gregg declares, “It will be the urban beekeeper who saves the bees,” He doesn’t mean one urban beekeeper keeping 600 hives.  He means 600 people each keeping one hive.  In fact, one hive every 2 miles in the urban setting would insure a healthy bee population and be a boon to urban gardeners.  And lately urban hives are all the rage.  “My beekeeping classes have more than  tripled in size just in the last year,” says Gregg.  His February and March classes are nearly full already.  More good news?  It’s not hard to find a beekeeping class, and a hive will set you back less than a fancy iPod.

Gregg’s classes are just one part of his mission to make the world bee-savvy.  He leaps on every opportunity to give workshops in schools and also in assisted living establishments.  “A ninety-year old has exactly the same magical reaction to bees as a kindergartner,” he says, “When  you pull up a chair and watch my girls (hives are 95% female) come and go, doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, it’s magical for people,”

At this point I had to clarify.  “Hold on.” I said, “You’re talking about therapy.  Nature therapy.  With bees!”

“That’s right,” he said, “It’s very exciting for people and it’s relaxing.  It’s therapy.  And that doesn’t even include apitherapy, which there needs to be more of,” Apitherapy is the practice of getting stung on purpose for medicinal use; Gregg is excited about the potential of this field.

He’s also excited about setting up hives in struggling urban neighborhoods, third-world countries and in the Colorado back country, but his favorite situation is educating young people in schools about bees.  And Gregg, who at one point explored working in the solar energy field, is quick to point out, “There is nothing greener than a honeybee,”

If you’d like to explore the possibilities of urban beekeeping or just learn more about what Gregg is doing, you can check out Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Rescue and Education here:

For classes and equipment locally you can reach Vicky Monroe at To Bee or Not To Bee here:

To get a glimpse of the documentary “The Vanishing of The Bees”, click here:

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