Report Back – Chaz Mraz

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Reflections on the Bee Audacious Conference

by Chas Mraz

First, I have to say that attending the Bee Audacious Conference as a Thought Leader, though a lot of work, was a real privilege. Getting to know and working with the other leaders was a rare opportunity. We witnessed our own ideas as they ebbed, flowed and then grew into thoughtful solutions. Our ideas were not solely our own any longer as they were nourished throughout the conference by the minds of many.

The dedication to this collaborative process by all those who attended was quite remarkable. Everyone worked hard, listened carefully, and contributed thoughtfully. The professional and geographic diversity of the group was perfectly balanced and the collective intelligence and expertise was extraordinary.

Throughout the meeting, the problems and weaknesses of our concerns—as individuals and as a group—were revealed quickly and addressed, with everyone working toward solutions. Occasionally people left for the plenary frustrated, but more often they seemed pleased, and regardless, the conversation always continued.

Our discussions showed that there are areas of concern that we all share. This was evident before the conference but seemed to be very clear by the end. Those concerns are forage, pesticides, and Varroa mites. Each of these has multiplicities; for example, Varroa and viruses are synergistic, and if we can overcome varroa, perhaps the viruses will become manageable. Forage concerns are very much defined by location and solutions to improve them will need to be customized accordingly. And, pesticide misuse and abuse is likely causing the degradation of our pollinators, not necessarily the appropriate application of

Champlain Valley Apiaries, 3rd Generation Beekeeper

Chas Mraz, Champlain Valley Apiaries, 3rd Generation Beekeeper

them. Going forward, our efforts must address all these concerns. Failure to address all of them will result in just that—failure. To make audacious change in the dire state of our pollinators we must overcome not one or two of these concerns, but all of them. We also understood that in order to overcome these critical issues that we have to work together and build alliances. Most of the tools we need to address them already exist; they simply need to be picked up, cleaned up, and put in the right hands. I could substitute this metaphor with “funded, collaborated and implemented.”

I read an excellent article in the January 1, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Things Fall Apart” by Steven Pinker, a scientist at Harvard University. I highly recommend reading this article in its entirety, but one quote from Mr. Pinker stood out to me: “I believe that [The Second Law of Thermodynamics] defines the ultimate purpose of life, mind and striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order.” This quote describes the efforts of the Audacious Bee Conference very well and I am confident that through continued efforts and collaboration we can overcome the seemingly impossible task of bringing the bees back to the health that they once enjoyed. The bees in turn will continue to propagate and allow life to thrive again, and we will have fought back the tide of entropy that threatens the honeybee industry as well as this world of ours.

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