Kitchen Table Talks: The Honeybee & Colony Collapse Disorder, in SF 4/27 | Civil Eats

Kitchen Table Talks: The Honeybee & Colony Collapse Disorder, in SF 4/27

Emily Dickinson quipped, “To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.” As Spring is in bloom, Kitchen Table Talks will “bee” giving our tireless farming partners, the honeybee, their due, and providing a timely update on the devastating malady mysteriously affecting hives worldwide—known as “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)”.

When and where you ask?
Tuesday, April 27th
Viracocha, 998 Valencia Street @ 21st Street
6:30 pm, food and drinks plus a short film: Pollen Nation
7:00 pm, Discussion

The fascinating world of today’s honeybee is magnificently operatic in scope. Reflecting the times, their saga includes familiar human issues of:

– Class: Queen/ worker bee/ drone
– Sexism: it’s good to be the Queen
– Race: Africanized “killer” bee, importation from abroad
– Intrigue: “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)”
– Immigration: European Honeybee brought over in 1600s
– Fear: “They pollinate up to 1/3 of American diet, and they are dying en masse?”
– Environmental degradation: insecticides, pesticides, monocultures
– Dramatic Exits: sting then die, sex then die
– Exploitation: “excess” honey, transporting colonies over long distances
– Hyperbole: “wiped out in 10 years!”
– Diet: surely a marker for our time– even the ubiquitous corn syrup makes an appearance…

Honeybees have existed for at least 8o million years. Across many ancient civilizations, bees have long been revered and considered sacred: for their pollination skills, nectar, health and medicinal value, wax and more.

About one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and Honeybees, the most effective pollinator, are responsible for about 80 percent of that. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90 percent dependent on HoneyBee pollination; one crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honeybee.

California has the largest beekeeping industry of any state in the U.S.: nearly three-fourths of the country’s commercial honeybee crop pollination is conducted here. About two million colonies across the country are rented by growers each year to service over 90 different crops. Whether you are a massive factory farm, or the smallest home gardener, all of us should recognize the tremendous outsized contribution these bees have made to our lives.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Since 2004, a strange phenomenon called “CCD”, where honeybee colonies leave their homes and don’t return, has become a global crisis—some say as serious as global warming. In the U.S. alone we have likely lost well over one million colonies. What does this portend for us? Perhaps more importantly, what does that say about us? Joining Kitchen Table Talks in conversation will be:

Michael Thiele grew up on a farm in a tiny village in Germany. He has been deeply influenced by the biodynamic beekeeping movement, and now teaches classes on natural and holistic beekeeping in Sonoma, CA. at a honeybee sanctuary, The Melissa Garden, which he helped create. He also started Gaiabees to “promote a shift of paradigm of life on earth, including new approaches to beekeeping and bee hives, and the study of human consciousness.”

Dr. Michelle Flenniken, awarded the Haagen Dazs postdoctoral research fellowship for Honey Bee Biology in 2008, is currently studying the interactions of RNA viruses and the honeybee’s immune system at UCSF. Her research is focused on the biology of the honeybe, honeybe viruses, and CCD.

Cameo Wood is the proprietrix for Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper (HMSB) shop, likely the only urban beekeeping store in the country, which is located in the Mission district of San Francisco. Through HMSB, she has helped develop the local market for San Francisco and other Bay Area honeys. She also co-founded a non-profit, SF Bee-Cause, which aims to offer transitional employment to young people by teaching them about beekeeping, honey production, and other skills.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Kitchen Table Talks is a joint venture of CivilEats and 18 Reasons. Space is limited, so please RSVP. A $10 suggested donation is requested at the door, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Sustainable food and refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Bi-Rite Market and Shoe Shine Wine.

Eric Cohen is the owner/winemaker for Justice Grace Vineyards, maker of Shoe Shine Wine®. The winery is as dedicated to social justice issues, in particular a Living Wage, as it is making world class wine from the Petite Sirah grape. He is also one of the founding organizers of San Francisco's Kitchen Table Talks. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from

Kitchen Table Talks


mayukh sen and the cover of taste makers the book

Mayukh Sen Celebrates Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized American Food Culture

In his new book ‘Taste Makers,’ the food writer profiles seven remarkable women who have shaped the American palette—and levels criticism at the country’s mainstream food establishment.


Fast Food and Grocery Giants Promise to Sell ‘Better’ Chicken—Is It Enough?

Farm grass field with chicken in foreground on poatrol with trees and barns in the background under and overcast sky.

A Native-led Land Trust Is Working to Empower Indigenous Youth Through Kelp Farming

Sugar kelp remnants from Native Conservancy's test site in Simpson Bay, Prince William Sound. (Photo By Tesia Bobrycki)

Journalist-Turned-Cattle Farmer Beth Hoffman on the Impossible Math of Starting a Farm

Beth Hoffman raking hay on her tractor.

Keeping a Detailed Record of the Changing Climate Could Save This Tribe’s Foodways

The RACCA team in the field. (Photo courtesy of Megan Mucioki)