Bees have thrived on this planet for over 50 million years, yet in the last 7 years they have been d
Bees have thrived on this planet for over 50 million years, yet in the last 7 years both native and managed bee colonies have been dying off en masse. Monarch butterflies are similarly disappearing. So what happened 7 years ago? There are several factors, such as the use of new systemic pesticides, but the over-arching reason, we believe, is the loss of natural habitat and healthy bee forage that keeps bees' immune systems strong.
In 2007, the US government, in an effort to "combat global warming" mandated the use of biofuels for cars. The price of corn skyrocketed, and, in just 7 years, over 15 million acres of natural bee habitat were lost, mostly to genetically modified corn. Bees are presently under tremendous stress, with a vastly inferior diet. It is no surprise that their immune systems are compromised. This is an ecological disaster on an unprecedented scale. It is also an agricultural disaster, as bees are necessary for at least 1 in 3 bites of food we eat.
With the revolving door between Monsanto, agribusiness and all three branches of our federal government, there is little chance that the biofuel policy will be reversed or that neonicotinoids will be banned any time soon.
The American Bee Project's mission is to increase the number of acres of raw, natural bee habitat available to commercial bee keepers for rebuilding the health of bee colonies. We do this by educating owners of suitable raw land of the multiple tax, insurance and other benefits that are available under existing law of leasing land to legitimate commercial beekeepers. We partner owners of raw land with legitimate, successful commercial bee keepers who have need of such land. This is a simple, elegant solution to an enormous problem.
While most of our participating owners love the opportunity to help save the bees, our successfully obtaining agricultural classification property tax benefits is critical to our long term success in meeting our objective. We have found that most county Property Appraisers initially are quite hostile to the notion that a property owner should be granted agricultural classification for bees. They see beekeeping as too easy or that it is too easy to deceive the assessor with bees. If they only knew how hard beekeepers work!
Every one of our participating apiaries is a real, legitimate commercial agricultural use and there is simply no legitimate basis for denying agricultural classification of any American Bee Project properties, other than prejudice against bees and beekeeping. In the past, Property Appraisers fought granting agricultural classification for horses. Ultimately, we believe they will accept bees, just as they have been forced to accept that horses are a bona fide agricultural use.
We are working closely with property appraisers in various counties to educate them on the importance of bees and have been successful in obtaining agricultural classifications for bees. We also have been successful in meeting our prime objective. Last year, the loss of a large portion of the California almond crop was narrowly averted by American Bee Project and other beekeepers who raced to California to make up for the shortfall of bees lost to colony collapse disorder. This year, American Bee Project beekeepers will be in a position to provide over 2.6 billion bees, thanks to the generosity of our participating landowners who have provided healthy habitat to rebuild bee colonies this year.
If you know anyone who has pesticide-free vacant land that might benefit from our program, please help us spread the word! The American Bee Project is a win-win for the owner, the beekeeper, our environment and all of us who like to eat fruits and vegetables!