I've been volunteering at the Hayes Valley Farm for the past few Thursdays.
What's the Hayes Valley Farm? Well, here's a quick overview. Since late January, a bunch of volunteers have been converting a blighted lot where the entrance & exit ramps of the Central Freeway once stood (prior to their collapse in the '88 earthquake) into an organic urban farm in the heart of San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood. The experiment is temporary -- the land is owned by a private developer, & they plan to build when the economic climate is more favorable -- but this very public display of urban farming has germinated a lot more than just food. In full view of traffic entering & exiting the new freeway entrance, it has also inspired a lot of passers by & fostered a new sense of community within the Hayes Valley neighborhood, & San Francisco on the whole.
Not only are they producing food from this parcel of long abandoned land. They also offer workshops on beekeeping, composting, greenhouse propagation, planting planning, fruit tree grafting, canning, etc. Budding Urban Homesteaders have a clubhouse to hang out in.
I've been admiring the farm since it opened (as have a lot of other people). But this week, someone broke in & sprayed the farm's three beehives with a can of pesticide, killing hundreds of thousands of honeybees. Two of the three hives were decimated, & the third lost more than half it's population.
On the bright side, the local media/blog/twitter response has been overwhelming. All the press surrounding this tragedy has raised awareness about urban beekeeping & the ecological benefits therein.
To say the least, bees are misunderstood. I'm sure if you asked them, they'd tell you they'd rather be loved than feared. The common honeybee is far less interested in stinging people than it is in hanging around flowers. It only stings in self defense & once it stings someone, it dies. Hornets, wasps, and even bumblebees are far more aggressive. Honeybees are vital to our survival as a species, & with growing concerns about Colony Collapse Disorder, it's mind-boggling that someone would want to wipe out three thriving colonies. Clearly, more education is needed. That's why the HVF -- the only place in the Bay Area offering beekeeping classes -- is so vital.
Here are some other stories about the attack on the bees.
Hayes Valley Farm blog.
San Francisco Chronicle.
If you live in SF & are interested in volunteering, Thursday & Sunday are the days. Check the HVF blog for more details.