About 10 years ago, I began to realize the importance of bees - and honeybees in particular - to our food chain and our ecosystems. (I am not belittling the importance of bumblebees, or the many other species of bees [around 2,500 in the UK] - but due to their sheer numbers per colony, honeybees have a special place.) Since then, I have immersed myself in bees and beekeeping, reading everything I could get my hands on, working for a year at Buckfast Abbey with the remaining stocks of Brother Adam's bees, studying his breeding methods and learning everything I could about how bees can best be supported. I wrote 'The Barefoot Beekeeper' in an attempt to express my urgent concerns and to present some possible alternatives to the 'factory farm' attitude of commercial beekeepers.
Now I see bees being decimated, in the USA, in France, in Germany, Slovenia, and lately in the UK. I also see companies like Bayer rolling out new pesticides - lately the neo-nicotinoids - and denying that they kill bees 'if used according to instructions' - and being found out in lie after lie about just how toxic their products are, not only to bees, but to just about anything that lives in the earth and in the rivers and seas. I see these corporations, with directors who cannot be held accountable for the incalculable damage they are doing, getting fatter each year on the profits they garner from ignorant users of domestic weed-killers and hard-pressed farmers alike, and I get very, very angry. I have learned - at last - to channel this anger into positive energy for campaigning for change, rather than to be exhausted by it, as used to be the case.
And then I find that the British Bee Keepers Association - the one body that should be protecting the interests of the bees - have been bought so cheaply by the corporation with the most heinous history of lying, deceit and shockingly inhuman behaviour... and my good intentions to remain calm and focused almost fail me.
These people have to be brought to book. There is no compromise: they will not stop until they have achieved their aim of total domination of the food chain - and they are not so far away from that right now. They have governments in their pocket, and their PR departments spend untold millions on propaganda to persuade us that they are doing the right thing for our futures. They are destroying what is left of this precious planet, a thousand hectares at a time, while people sit back and watch TV, unwilling to lift a finger.
The GM/pesticide industry (it is the same people) will now take every advantage of the currently rising prices of basic foods (they may well have engineered this too) to push their agenda hard. You will see articles in the press purporting to come from 'scientists' or politicians themselves, but in fact originating from the PR departments of Bayer and Monsanto, telling us how much we 'need' GM crops. They already have the UK government in their pocket and will use them as leverage on the EU. They know that they need to use the 'third world guilt' argument on the British public - '...you may not need GM, but what about the starving in Africa...' which we know to be false, but they will wear down those who cannot think or see more widely than their daily tabloid.
Well, I may not be able, single-handedly, to stop Bayer in their tracks - I would be suffering from a grossly inflated ego if I entertained such a thought - but I do know that a relatively small number of well-informed, intelligent people, motivated by nothing more or less that a love for our planet, can turn them inside out.
So, don't tell me that this is 'internal politics'. This is an issue of the greatest possible importance: it is about PRINCIPLES - the foundation of our motivation, our actions, our campaigning. I suggest that IT IS A BASIC PRINCIPLE that the British Bee Keepers Association are violating in supporting the use of substances on our soil that are known to be toxic - not only to bees, but to a huge range of wildlife - and that they should be made to see that they are doing so.
PLEASE - do what you can: post comments at http://www.britishbeekeeping.com so they can be seen by anyone; join the BBKA forum (they have banned me, quel surprise!) at http://www.britishbee.org.uk/forum/ and tell the BBKA what you think. You will be banned too, no doubt, but at least they get to know that they are not being let off the hook!
Better still, take up beekeeping in a small way - it is easier and cheaper than you might imagine - and you will be doing your bit to create a gene pool from which survivors may emerge, capable of overcoming the problems we have imposed on them over the last 150 years or so. There are lots of people all over the world willing to help you start - see http://www.biobees.com/forum