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David Braden
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Chapter 12

Posted by David Braden about 9 years ago

An update on our relationship with bees.

In 2011 Don, our bee keeper team member, was a part time entrepreneur trying to break into the business of beekeeping after hours at his paying job. His son was between jobs and between them they managed to gather four swarms. After an eventful summer, Don had five strong colonies going into winter. One was lost to colony collapse disorder, one blew over in a wind storm and eventually succumbed to the cold, and one survived the winter only to be raided by a mouse. This left 2 colonies surviving the winter of 2011/2012. One of the surviving colonies was strong enough to split three ways. So, Don started swarm season this year with 4 colonies. That type of one step forward two steps back is common in the world of business.


Over the winter we have been talking to Don about the gardening team developing the capacity to produce honey. In January we had our bee hive build and the team earned 3 hives in exchange for planning and hosting the event. The team had also previously built 3 top bar hives and the prototype Warre, making a total of 7. Two team members elected to buy bees and those bees are now installed in some of Don's equipment bringing the total number of colonies to 6. Further, another friend of the team had a bursting colony that Don helped to split making colony 7. Since swarm season began, the team has collected every swarm of which Don was notified. We are up to 10 swarms and counting. As I write I received a call about another swarm. Three of those swarms were given away to cement new relationships and Don purchased two colonies with hives. That gives the team 16 living colonies and swarm season still has 7 weeks to go. Don is scrambling all his equipment, and we have only 5 more hives to place more swarms. Once filled we will have 21 colonies. We don't know how things might go from there.


Don is now thinking of reaching out to others with empty hives and filling those hives in exchange for the agreement that, should the colony survive the winter, Don can split the hive and keep the split. Instead of hoping to marginally increase on his beginning four colonies, Don is thinking in terms of 20 colonies going into winter. With 20 colonies, after the expected 40% loss from mites, viruses and colony collapse, Don would likely start 2013 with 12 colonies. Each colony might be strong enough to split into three. That would give Don 36 colonies before swarm season and before potential splits from other folks' equipment. All of that growth would be from colonies with genetics proven to survive in this precise habitat instead of guessing at genetics imported from California or Texas. We might be able to offer Colorado bees to Colorado beekeepers in the Spring of 2013.


We can now project the trajectory of the one business plan where Don owns everything and expects to keep all the profit, compared to a community sufficiency plan where the gardening team develops the capacity to produce. In the first plan, growth of the business depends on Don accumulating capital in the form of equipment and bees while minimizing his costs by doing most of the work himself. In the second plan, the more team members involved, the more resources we can tap, and the less labor any one member has to contribute. Comparing the two trajectories, we can see the potential in the second for all the colonies that the contributing team members can possibly use with an excess that can be sold in the market. We do not know how the details will work out so that Don can quit his day job and be full time beekeeper.


We also have to figure out how to distribute production from community contributions. That is the technology part of Community Sufficiency Technologies. It is a simpler problem to solve working with an abundance, than it is working with scarcity. The 'better world we imagine is possible' really is as simple as letting go of our scarcity mentality and embracing nature's abundance.

Hives for Swarms

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David Braden
David Braden : I want to share with you some of my thoughts on Chapter 12 of the API Chronicles. This Chapter is about the Gardening Team's relationship with bees. In the alternative currencies world, we could call this a comparison between a market economy and a gift economy. In other worlds we might think of this as a comparison of a capital based production system and a labor based production system. To me it demonstrates the principle that the market is a scarcity based system. That does not mean that the market is bad. But the market places no value on ½ of the human population and only values a small percentage of the species that make up our habitats.

Even if a person has a niche in the market economy, it is prudent to have an investment in this labor based gift economy that we are developing. It is the only way that I know to realize the potential contribution of those people and species that have no place in the market. It has the potential to balance the efficiency of the market with the abundance of integrated production systems.

I am hoping that Chapter 12 can help you understand the significance of community sufficiency technologies. I need your help to increase the level of understanding and the number of experiments in its application. Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
Posted about 9 years ago

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