Burn the Bees

Every so often I read something that strikes me as odd. Maybe I should stop reading. I was reading a CNN article The Old Man and the Bee by John D. Sutter. The article is about vanishing bees and a Robbin Thorp, a retired entomologist from University of California-Davis, who has been obsessed with Franklin’s bumblebee, a bumblebee that has become extremely rare.

In the article, John Sutter visits Windset Farms in British Columbia. The farm grows peppers and tomatoes in green houses that cover many acres. They used to hand pollinate the crops, but they now use bumblebees. The farm hires bumblebees which buzz about pollinating the crops from sunup to sundown. It all sounds nice and peachy, but then I read this line:

… the bees are raised only for mass production and their colonies are incinerated after eight weeks of work …

It made me pause. Did I read that right? The bee colonies are incinerated? I’ve reached out to Windset Farms by phone and by leaving a question on their Talk to Us web page. I haven’t heard back from them yet about their bee incineration practices. I suppose it is to prevent the bees from spreading any diseases or pests into the environment. The bees aren’t native to British Columbia, but are shipped in from commercial bee operations 2,000 miles away. It also sounds like a convenient way to treat a tireless workforce. Instead of paying them when they have finished their work, burn them to smithereens. That sure cuts down on payroll and lowers expenses.

In the video below, Windset Farms describes how they use bumblebees to pollinate their tomatoes. “We let nature take it’s course, and let the bumblebees do the work for us,” Mike Brown, Senior Tomato Grower says, but he doesn’t mention that the thanks the bumblebees get for doing this work is being burnt to a crisp.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfISTtYHJAA&w=640&h=360]

I heard back from Windset Farms. They do not incinerate the bees themselves. They use them for eight weeks and ship them back to their supplier in Ontario who incinerates them.

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