Article by Daniel Mele | Photography by Ahmed Hamayun & Matt Tennyson | Owl Staff
The sun shines on a beautiful day in late May. The birds fill the skies with songs and a buzz is heard in the field as beekeeping veteran of 30 years, Steve Rouse of Rousedale farms (former host of Rouse and Company on WQSR), opens one of the hives.
The time has come to harvest a portion of the honey left by the bees. It is a complicated and time-consuming process to make the honey, but one that is well worth the wait.
Rouse is one of a handful of local beekeepers in Harford County. In order for the community to thrive, more beekeepers are needed. Rouse says, “Younger people need to get involved because everyone doing it now is 100 years old.”
HCC offers non-credit beekeeping classes. The Susquehanna Beekeepers Association also offers scholarships for kids between the ages of 13-17 interested in beekeeping. In addition to its great taste, the honey that bees produce has several noteworthy health benefits. The Journal of Medicinal Food outlines that honey has been shown to lower cholesterol.
Studies by the British Journal of Surgery show that honey can heal wounds or ulcers when applied. According to Bee World, a scholarly journal, honey can cure sore throats and has antibiotic properties.
While bees have many benefits to offer, they are being threatened by unsustainable farming practices. According to Rouse and Joe Lewis of the Susquehanna Beekeepers Association, the colonies are collapsing. So much more work goes into beekeeping now as opposed to 30 years ago. Now, medicine and other manipulative processes are needed.
Despite these efforts, the bee population still decreases 30-35% each winter. This is astronomical compared to years past when the decrease was only 10%. One of the main reasons for this decrease is because of pesticide corporations and lawn care companies, among others. Lewis continued to say that weeds and dandelions are a common food source for the bees.
Although lawn care companies promote weed-free lawns, this is not natural. These types of lawns are food deserts for the bees. Lewis states, “A green lawn is not a healthy lawn.”
Beekeeping plays an important role in the survival of honeybees, and honeybees play an integral part in the survival of humanity. Albert Einstein has been credited with making the statement that “if bees were gone, humans would be eliminated from the earth within four years.”
While the source of this quote has come into question, there is science to support the dependence of humanity on bees. Without bees, most food sources would be eliminated due to the bee’s role in plant pollination.
The bees need help. We can aid them by using local honey, signing petitions against excessive pesticide use, educating ourselves, and spreading awareness of this problem facing us all.