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'Buffalo Bees': Pine Ridge to Sponsor Bee Hives

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A new bee hive project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, dubbed “Buffalo Bees”, is intended to revive the tribe's local food system while educating students about ecology, agriculture, food sources, societal structure and mutual cooperation, reported Natalie Hand for the Lakota Country Times.

The hives will serve as a “science class in a box,” teaching community members the importance of acting as stewards for honeybees and their natural environments. 

The Honeybee Conservancy selected the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation to sponsor bee hives in the community garden. Thunder Valley CDC will receive its hives in March 2016.

The California-based non-profit formed in 2009 to address the bee crisis and colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is linked to habitat loss, disease, parasites and pesticides. Managed honeybee colonies declined by 42 percent from April 2014 to April 2015, according to report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Food systems will suffer if society can't reverse this trend. Insect pollination is integral to food security. Honeybees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America. Globally, 87 of the leading 115 food crops evaluated are dependent on animal pollinators, contributing 35 percent of global food production, states a 2014 White House report.

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“With bees being a foundational insect to the production of a third of the world’s food, we have taken the initiative to sponsor a hive so they can help us regenerate a local food system here on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,” Nick Hernandez, director of Thunder Valley’s Food Sovereignty program, told the Lakota Country Times.

The corporation plans to harvest and sell the Buffalo Bees honey in the future. For more information, visit www.thundervalley.org.