- Title: 'Rewilding:' One man's mission to save honey bees
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: SEBASTOPOL, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEE PRESERVATIONIST MICHAEL THIELE (PARTIALLY UNSEEN, HOLDING BEES IN HIS HAND), SAYING: "It feels so intimate and I feel how deeply we belong and how important it is to protect them. It's so important." SLOWED DOWN SHOT OF BEES GOING IN AND OUT OF HIVE BEES ON HIVE THIELE SITTING ON GROUND NEXT TO HIVE, TALKING BEES ENTERING HIVE VARIOUS OF THIELE SITTING NEXT TO HIVE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE SAYING: "We live in the Anthropocene - a time of human-induced mass extinction of species, of an accelerating loss of biodiversity, and the safety-net of multi-species interdependencies our lives depend on is breaking down. And that is the context within which I see our work at Apis Arborea and in projects like rewilding - to really respond to the crisis we live in in a forward-looking, hopeful, in a forward-looking way, in a creative way. To respond and try to find and develop completely new ways of being on this planet." THIELE UNTYING CLOSURE ON A HIVE INSIDE A TREE TRUNK THIELE OPENING HIVE THIELE LISTENING TO BEES INSIDE HIVE BEES INSIDE HIVE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE SAYING: "It sometimes makes me so emotional or I could say it touches so deeply because it's almost as if honey bees make the fragility of life so palpable, the fragility of our life, and as if they are really mirroring where we are on this time on this planet." VARIOUS OF THIELE INHALING SCENT OF AIR COMING OUT OF HIVE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE SAYING: "We all can touch and move bees like this. And it's such an honor and such a gift if we have this opportunity and that's what I'm trying to teach people - to share with them, to show them how to do it, because it's life-changing, really." VARIOUS OF THIELE HOLLOWING OUT A SECTION OF TREE TRUNK FOR A HIVE, USING A TRADITIONAL TOOL MADE BY A TREE BEEKEEPER IN POLAND (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE SAYING: "We set up hives, we prepare them so they are really attractive to honey bees and to scouts who are on the lookout for nest sites and then we just watch them move in. One has to know how to do it, but there is a very simple way of doing it. And that's really quite beautiful, actually. It's like owl boxes in vineyards - they just set up and owls come." THIELE SETTING UP LADDER NEXT TO TREE WITH LOG HIVE THIELE CLIMBING LADDER BEES GOING IN AND OUT OF HIVE VIA A THIN VERTICAL OPENING THIELE, ON LADDER, CHECKING HIVE BEES GOING IN AND OUT OF HIVE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE, STANDING ON LADDER NEXT TO LOG HIVE, SAYING: "We place those hives, those log hives high off the ground, because that's their preference. They are not, their preference is not to live on ground-level, but rather high up off the ground, 15 to 20 feet or so. That's where their natural biosphere really is." HIVE ATTACHED TO TREE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL THIELE, STANDING ON LADDER NEXT TO LOG HIVE, SAYING: "We can do this very, very simple thing - return bees into their natural nest environment, into their natural biosphere, because we need to do everything we can to protect them. If we lose them, due to human-induced mass extinction, will there be a tomorrow?" BEES BUZZING AROUND HIVE THIELE GOING DOWN LADDER AND LOOKING UP AT BEE HIVE IN TREE
- Embargoed: 6th November 2019 23:53
- Keywords: bees wild hives log wood California beekeeper rewilding
- Location: SEBASTOPOL, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: SEBASTOPOL, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001B2H2H5L
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Honey bees are dying. Michael Thiele thinks he can save them.
The unconventional apiculturist in California has championed an approach he calls the "rewilding" of honeybees, allowing them to live as they did for millions of years - in natural log hives high above the ground.
"We can do this very, very simple thing - return bees into their natural nest environment, into their natural biosphere," said German-born Thiele at his home in Sebastopol, California.
"If we lose them due to human-induced mass extinction, will there be a tomorrow?"
Thiele's method consists of hollowing out logs into hives and strapping them high up on tree trunks in an effort to mimic the way bees lived before they were domesticated. He also sometimes suspends them from barn rafters or perches them high on wooden tables for a similar effect.
Honey bees are critical to the survival of the planet's ecosystem because they pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, according to U.S. government reports.
Last winter, U.S. beekeepers lost almost 40% of their colonies, according to a report released earlier this year by the Bee Informed Partnership, a group of industry participants.
It was the worst winter die-off in more than a decade.
Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, experts say.
Wild bee populations are declining too, but researchers found in 2015 that wild bees from around Ithaca, New York recovered from the introduction of the deadly "varroa mite" in the 1990s while domesticated bees did not.
For Thiele, the health and resilience of wild bees supports his mission.
Thiele says his life with bees began with vivid dreams about them about 20 years ago when he was leaving in Big Sur in northern California. "And they were so intense that, you know how it is after a very strong dream, you wake up and it stays with you."
So he borrowed an empty box from a local beekeeper and soon it was swarming with bees, drawn by the smell.
Thiele over time rejected the 'rectangular white boxes' of traditional beekeeping and refuses to use chemicals, smoke or protective clothing when interacting with bees, scooping them up from their hives bare-handed.
"It feels so intimate and I feel how deeply we belong and how important it is to protect them," he said as a swarm of bees crawled over hand and arm.
Once a hollowed-out log hive is attached to a tree, it becomes attractive to bee "scouts" looking for a nest site, who then alert their bee colonies to move into it.
Thiele, who created his Apis Arborea (Latin for bees in trees) firm, dedicated towards rewilding honeybees, said he does not farm the honey the bees produce unless the colony leaves the hive or dies. His hives, he says, are both a conservation project and a personal mission.
"It's almost as if honey bees make the fragility of life so palpable," he said. "And as if they are really mirroring where we are on this time on this planet."
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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