Whole Grain Baking Class With Craig Ponsford

As a co-founder of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, I’m happy to announce a special whole wheat baking class with Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie gold medalist Craig Ponsford. Craig will be coming to Los Angeles November 19 and 20th. Registration is on the LA Bread Baker’s meetup page. Here’s more info on the class:

Join award-winning baker Craig Ponsford in a six-hour hands-on exploration of baking with whole grain flour made from California wheat. Craig’s demonstrations will feature four of the following: English Muffins, Cinnamon Morning Buns, Vegetable Croissants, Pretzels, and Challah, among others. This class will repeat on the 20th.

Craig Ponsford graduated from the California Culinary Academy with top honors and opened Artisan Bakers with his family in Sonoma California in 1992. In 1996 his breads won the Gold medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris. He then went on to coach the US Team to victory in 1999. He has coached or trained each U.S. team since and served as U.S. judge at the 2002 and 2005 Coupe du Monde and 2007 Louis LeSaffre Cup held in Argentina. He currently is an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California and has his own bakery/innovation center, Ponsford’s Place, in his home town of San Rafael.

The classes will be held at Guittard Chocolate’s facility in Los Angeles. Lunch is included and will be prepared by Donald Wressell, Guittard Pastry Chef.

Class size is limited to 12 students per day. Due to the hands-on nature of this class and limited number of spots available, there will also be a 7-day cancellation policy in effect. No refunds will be issued after November 12th.

Sponsored by the California Wheat Commission and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers.

The Africanized Bee Myth

Beekeeping is on the way to being legalized in Los Angeles. But there’s one issue that keeps coming up: Africanized bees.

African honeybees (Apis mellifera scutellata) were introduced to the Americas in Brazil in 1957. Over the years, on their journey north, they have hybridized with European honeybees (Apis mellifera). African and hybrid “Africanized” honeybees can’t tolerate cold temperatures so there is a northern boundary to their territory.

Visually, Africanized honeybees are indistinguishable from purebred European varieties. The only way you can tell the difference is through DNA testing. They are just a hybridized subspecies of honeybee.

The hysteria over African honeybees is just that, hysteria. I have helped move many hives here from walls, trees and kitchen vents to people who have wanted to have bees. Most likely, all of the hives I have moved have been Africanized. I have yet to encounter a feral hive that I would consider aggressive. Africanized bees should not be used as an excuse to ban beekeeping in Los Angeles or anywhere else that has Africanized bee populations.

The people fanning the Africanized bee hysteria all have agendas (and, I’ll point out, they have never actually worked with Africanized bees–only killed them). Exterminators want your money. Government bureaucrats need an enemy to justify their jobs and pensions (government vector control “experts” the TSA, NSA and DEA have a lot in common including a bumbling incompetence). Conventional beekeepers are so blinded by honey production and pollination service income that they fail to see the long term evolutionary advantages of African bee genetics, specifically disease resistance. And I can’t help but think there’s a subconscious racism here of the sort that you find at the extreme end of the anti-invasive species movement (see Gert Gröning and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn for more on that subject).

Africanized colonies have been living for years in walls, trees and utility boxes of the warmer parts of North America without any human intervention. They have, through the process of natural selection, survived all the problems that have decimated the hives of commercial beekeepers: varroa mite, American Foul Brood, nosema, etc. and I have no doubt they will figure out how to deal with the small hive beetle. Instead of demonizing Africanized colonies, we should see a possible answer to colony collapse disorder. As permaculturalists like to say, in the problem is a solution.

Saturday Linkages: Balloon Jumping, Front Yard Graves and a Poo Themed Restaurant

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What If There Was No Landscaping? http://landscapeofmeaning.blogspot.com/2013/09/what-if-there-was-no-landscaping.html …

Make Your Own $35 Straw Mattress http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/10/make-your-own-35-straw-mattress.html …

How to solder: http://www.tvbgone.com/cfe_mfaire.php 

Outrageously Themed Magic Restroom Cafe Soft Opens, Serving “Golden Poop” Rice http://eater.cc/1fxFy2N 

ORDNING stainless steel breadbox to modern mailbox http://www.ikeahackers.net/2013/10/ordning-stainless-steel-breadbox-to-modern-mailbox.html …

How To Grow Your Own Garlic http://www.nwedible.com/2013/10/how-to-grow-your-own-garlic.html …

During Your First Freezes Be Concerned About The Wind http://www.finegardening.com/item/30377/during-your-first-freezes-be-concerned-about-the-wind …

Pumpkin Tap turns pumpkin or watermelon into keg: http://boingboing.net/2013/10/21/pumpkin-tap-turns-pumpkin-or-w.html …

Tombstone as Landscape Feature by Susan Harris http://gardenrant.com/2013/10/tombstone-front-yard.html?utm_source=feedly …

“We’re going to check the burger with our hands here” http://barfblog.com/2013/10/were-going-to-check-the-burger-with-our-hands-here/ …

Jeff Speck: America Has So Many Problems. Walkability Solves Most of Them. http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/10/15/jeff-speck-america-has-so-many-problems-walkability-solves-most-of-them/ …

Distracted Driving Is Claiming the Lives of More Pedestrians and Cyclists http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/10/23/distracted-driving-is-claiming-the-lives-of-more-cyclists-and-pedestrians/#.Uml6jtaXz3w.twitter …

Balloon Jumping: Yesterday’s Fun (and Dangerous) Sport of the Future http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/balloon-jumping-yesterdays-fun-and-dangerous-sport-1450733941 …

HOWTO make a $10 digital microscope kit for your phone: http://boingboing.net/2013/10/22/howto-make-a-10-digital-micro.html …

Pico-Dwelling: Urban Living in Less than 200 Square Feet http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/dornob/~3/UcyD8r98jAQ/story01.htm …

Branch-Like Modular Benches Have Endless Possibilities http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/dornob/~3/9OyXv2JJKMo/story01.htm …

The Venetian Handcart http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/10/the-venetian-handcart.html …

5 MPH Home: Ultra-Tiny Caravan Towed by Mobility Scooter | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/5-mph-home-ultra-tiny-caravan-towed-by-mobility-scooter/ …

Six-Legged Caravan Gives New Meaning to ‘Walking Home’ | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/six-legged-caravan-gives-new-meaning-to-walking-home/ …

Out of Stock: Simple & Easy-to-Assemble 3-Shelf Wall Set http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/dornob/~3/WFfQM7iaKJg/story01.htm …

Truck recycling? http://www.we2ours2.in/2013/10/truck-recycling.html …

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Bourbon http://www.nwedible.com/2013/10/pumpkin-bread-with-chocolate-chips-and-bourbon.html …

Infuse Your Booze! A Complete Guide To DIY Flavored Liquors http://www.nwedible.com/2013/10/infuse-your-booze-a-complete-guide-to-diy-flavored-liquors.html …

For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:

Are We Keeping Too Many Bees?

Someday I’ll get around to writing a fill in the blanks form for journalists doing the inevitable urban homesteading backlash story. You know, “Folks are tired of all the chores and are dumping their [chickens/vegetables/bees] and returning to a life of [shopping/golfing/riding jet skis].” This month’s backlash story concerns urban beekeeping in London.

Reader Cassandra Silver (who has a really beautiful blog) alerted us to a bee story in the Independent, “How do-gooders threaten humble bee.” The gist of the article is that urban beekeepers in London have more hives than the nectar and pollen sources can support:

The London Beekeepers Association (LBKA) is warning that there could be “too many bees” in the Greater London area for the environment to sustain. One beehive needs 120kg of nectar and 20kg to 30kg of pollen a year to sustain its bees; honey production will decrease if there are not enough pollinator-friendly plants to meet demand.

I’m confused about the article and the quotes from the BLKA. Is the concern about the bees or about having less honey? Focusing on honey can indeed lead to bee overpopulation. Bee populations self-regulate. If there are not enough food sources colonies will die off.

That is, unless people are feeding bee colonies sugar to prop them up (and I assume they are because feeding bees is one of the many misguided bits of advice that mainstream beekeeping organizations promulgate). Natural beekeeper Michael Bush has many good reasons for not feeding bees except under certain limited circumstances. One of the unintended consequence of feeding bees is that you could easily contribute to an overpopulation problem. It would be better to let populations decline and stabilize, in my opinion.

One good thing that might come out of London’s alleged bee overpopulation problem, that the article points out, is that the situation might prompt people to plant more flowering plants. Public and private urban spaces all over the world would benefit from landscaping that takes pollinators into account. Such landscapes tend to be beautiful, nourishing both to the bees and the human soul.

On Monday, the African bee myth.