My Latest in Oregon Wine Press:
Re-Wild at Heart:
Bee conservation abuzz at Troon
By L.M. Archer
Honeybees carry a heavy load on their tiny wings. Considered a cornerstone species, “nearly 90% of the blossoming world depends on them for pollination,” says apiculturist Michael Thiele, founder and president of Apis Arborea.
He preserves and protects honeybees through a process he calls “re-wilding,” returning them to the wild. Thiele explains, “Honeybees are actually a forest-dwelling animal, as odd as that may sound to some people.”
Troon Vineyard in the Applegate Valley uses Thiele’s re-wilding to rehabilitate natural nesting habitats in the vineyards. “We are always looking for ways to increase biodiversity,” says Craig Camp, Troon’s general manager. “The more life we have on the farm, the better for everything. Also, as we now have several hundred cider apple trees, they can help with pollination.”
Although grapevines don’t require pollination, the surrounding plant species do, such as ground cover, wildflowers and fruit trees. “We know vines are not dependent on pollinators for pollination,” Thiele says, “so that can’t be the only reason for this. But the associated landscape, the associated ecosystem essential for soil health, for the health of the wider landscape, for the health of all agricultural species, we wish to foster that as a whole.”
In short, biodiversity thrives best with bees around.
Camp first learned about Thiele through Troon’s Biodynamic consultant Andrew Beedy, who met Thiele 13 years ago while working at Quivra Vineyards and Winery in California. “Michael’s approach to agriculture, where he puts the bee’s health at the center of all his work, fits well within the Biodynamic approach to agriculture,” Beedy explains.
A thoughtful, soft-spoken man, Thiele’s introduction to bees arrived with an unexpected swarm to his home in Northern California in the early 2000s. Desperate to find housing for the bees, he bristled at the traditional boxed hives available commercially. “I still remember to this day that it was a mismatch for me from the very beginning,” he admits. “That I couldn’t — I didn’t — understand how this design could ever be an appropriate nesting environment for this species of honeybees.” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.