Saturday Linkages: Killer Bees, Bikes and Cold Coffee

Low tech bike lever via

Low tech bike shift lever via No Tech Magazine.

Low-tech Bike Shift Lever …

Before The Age of Automobiles, Cyclists Fought For Better Roads …

Stop Trying to Make Killer Bees Happen 

Designing Urban Agriculture: …

Why the Brain Prefers to Read on Paper …

HOWTO make a bike-charged emergency battery: …

Easy cold-brew coffee with a French press: …

Ten Steps You Can Take Right Now Against Internet Surveillance …

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.