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A plea to protect bee habitat

Pesticide usemust be curtailed in favour of less harmful controls, says ‘Beecology’ speaker.

By Judie Steeves B

eekeeper and biodynamic farmer Gabe Cipes warns we must find alternatives to pesticides or we won’t have any pollinators left—native bees, honey bees, butterflies, beetles, flies or even birds and bats.

Since it’s estimated that a third of the food on our plate requires pollinators at some stage, our food choices would be critically reduced.

“There are alternatives to controlling pests without using chemicals,” he told an audience in January, speaking on ‘Beecology’ at one in a series of talks put on by the University of B.C. Okanagan and the Okanagan Regional Library as part of a project called Border Free Bees.

It is headed up by Cameron Cartiere, associate professor in the Faculty of Culture and Community at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and Nancy Holmes, associate professor in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at


Cipes sits on the board of not only Summerhill Pyramid Winery, but also the Certified Organic Associations of B.C., Biodynamic Agriculture Society of B.C., Demeter Canada and the local Food Policy Council.

He led the transition from organic to biodynamic (certified by the international Demeter brand) at his family’s Kelowna winery and added beekeeping to his resume a few years ago. “Gardeners and farmers have an intimate bond with bees,” he comments, as he extols the virtues of insect-rich food gardens, allowed to grow free of pesticides.

“For 5,000 years people have been keeping bees. A colony of bees is like a single consciousness; like a collective

Ezra Cipes, left, a strong advocate of organic and

biodynamic farming, and ecologist Ralph Cartar have differing views on what’s needed to protect pollinators.

JUDIE STEEVES British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016 19

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