Archive for May, 2011

May 2, 2011

The Beekeeper’s Lament – Hannah Nordhaus

Award-winning journalist, Hannah Nordhaus, tells the riveting story of John Miller, one of America’s foremost migratory beekeepers; of the myriad and mysterious epidemics that threaten American honeybee populations;
and of the absolutely vital role honeybees play in American agribusiness.

The honeybee is a miracle. It is the cupid of the natural world. It pollinates crops, making plants bear fruit, and, in turn, helping farmers make money. But in this age of vast industrial agribusiness, never before has so much been asked of such a small wonder. Never before has the honeybee’s future survival been so unclear.

In steps John Miller, a boundingly energetic and charismatic beekeeper, who tasks himself with the care and the sustainable keeping of honeybees. He is descended from America’s first migratory beekeeper, N.E. Miller, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, transported thousands of hives from one crop to another, working the Idahoan clover in summer and the Californian almonds in winter. Back then beekeepers used to pay farmers to keep a few dozen hives on their land. But now farmers pay beekeepers millions of dollars to have their crops pollinated by upwards of ten thousand hives. With the rise of the monocrop and increasingly efficient pesticides, there are simply not enough natural pollinators to complete the massive task of sexing-up millions of acres of almond groves.

About the Author

A full-time freelance writer since 2001, Hannah covers environmental and outdoor topics and writes general news and cultural pieces about the American West. Her stories have been published in The LA Times, The Financial Times, Outside, High Country News, Bicycling, The Village Voice, Ski Magazine, Powder Magazine, Wilderness, SF Weekly, and other publications. She also pens a regular outdoors column for the Denver Rocky Mountain News.