A Summer with Missoula Beekeepers

This summer I interned with Environment Montana in Missoula, which is a branch of Environment America. This has been an enlightening experience about the environmental issues facing both our state and country. For my experience, I was assigned to work on the organization’s Bee Friendly Food Alliance campaign, which brings together chefs, restaurants and others in the food industry to come together to help save the bees. Bees pollinate 71 of 100 crops that supply 90% of the world’s food and in the past decade, beekeepers have been reporting an average loss of 30% of all honeybee colonies each winter. Montana is not an exception to these statistics and bees are essential for the pollination of Montana crops like strawberries, pumpkins, onions and tomatoes. One major reason for bees dying off is the use of a category of insecticides called Neonicotinoids, also known as neonics. Missoula beekeepers have noticed the impact of insecticide-treated plants on their bees and know that the only way to protect bees is by changing agricultural practices and supporting wild plant life.

I had the opportunity to interview Missoula beekeepers about these issues and create an informational video about these people and issues. It was a really great experience and I had a lot of fun making the video. Each beekeeper I spoke to was a wealth of information and taught me a lot about the importance of bees, what’s causing them to die off and how to protect them. I’m grateful that I was able to combine my journalistic skills and passion for the environment to form a really meaningful internship experience with Environment Montana and a video to share to communities around the country. I am much more aware of what issues are facing both bees and Missoula beekeepers after working on this project. Now, instead of swatting bees away, I’m thankful for their presence and am more aware of how my actions affect these tiny creatures and their ability to make much of the world’s food possible. Not only that, but I also got to experience beekeeping first-hand, suit and all. 

Tiffany Folkes

 

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