Pollinators and Power

Beekeeper and activist Terry Oxford has a great new podcast called Pollinators and Power. The premiere episode features Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University. Goulson is the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and author of many books on native pollinators including A Sting in the Tale, A Buzz in the Meadow, Bee Quest and The Garden Jungle. You can read a transcript of the conversation and subscribe to the podcast using your favorite app.

Terry Oxford was a guest on episodes 107 and 109 of the Root Simple Podcast.

RIP Susan Rudnicki

I’m saddened to report the passing of beekeeper Susan Rudnicki who was a guest on episode 102 of our podcast.

Susan was a tireless activist for local bees and for treatment-free beekeeping. She provided free bee removal services for the city of Manhattan Beach until, unfortunately, she was replaced by a pest control company. And it was Susan who tipped me off to the world of scam bee removal services and sent me regular updates on the story.

Like me, Susan promoted the benefits of robust and mite-resistant Africanized bee stock and worked to debunk the “killer” myths associated with them. For this activism she faced appalling sexism and condescension from the pseudo-scientific mainstream beekeeping establishment and journals. I spent the morning going through the emails she sent me over the past few years and I think I need to do a series of posts on them such as one that I missed which links the editor of a major bee magazine to pesticide manufacturers. I can hear her bold, uncompromising spirit in those emails.

Rob McFarland of HoneyLove says in Facebook,

I lost a good friend today who I loved dearly, and the world lost one of the finest beekeepers to ever wear the veil. Susan was the smartest, fiercest, and most passionate defenders of honeybees I’ve ever been blessed to know. I taught her to rescue bees, taking her on her cutout. I warned her how addictive bees are, and told her I could see her catching bee fever. She almost immediately surpassed me in every aspect of beekeeping, and soon became the person I turned to for mentorship, wisdom, and analysis. She taught me so much about bees and how to fight for what’s right and just. She was formidable in every respect, and she held us all to her incredibly high standards. I’ll miss you Susan Rudnicki, but I’ll never forget the impression you made on my life and the massive dent you made in the world. Now we must conduct the age old tradition of ‘the telling of the bees’ so they may be put into mourning and carry on her tremendous legacy. Love you Susan

Charles Napier, The Widow, 1895.

In Susan’s honor let us all tell the bees.

130 Farm Unfixed with Jessica Rath

In her work artist Jessica Rath examines, as she puts it, “how human containment of the land effects non-human species from the propagation of agricultural plants to the sensoria of bees.” She is on the faculty of the Art Center College of Design and her previous projects include works about apple breeding, co-evolutionary communication between flowering plants and their pollinators and a long term project called Farm Unfixed that we spend most of this conversation discussing. During the podcast Jessica mentions,

You can look at Jessica’s work on her website at jessicarath.com. Sign up for her newsletter to find out about upcoming projects.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Counterintelligence

After seven years our two cats have finally discovered that they can jump on the kitchen counters. They made this unfortunate discovery just as Kelly and I were preparing food for a dinner party. Kelly chopped some cheese and went to take care of something in another room. When I stepped into the kitchen one of our cats, Buck, was up on the counter and happily noshing down on that cheese.

Few things in nature are as deliberative as a cat making a call on jumping. The assault on our kitchen counters actually came in two parts, somewhat like finding an alternate route up Mt. Everest. The first step came two weeks ago when the cats figured out they could jump on the counter adjacent to the stove. From there they must have spotted the other counter and a week later made the dinner party assault on cheese summit. Perhaps someone will come up with a cat jump rating similar to the climbing grades used by mountaineers?

In a parallel cognitive leap, the cats also figured out how to explore the cabinets and remove lids from Tupperware containers. Looks like we’re going to have to give up cooking and eat all our meals out.