The Zen Beekeeper Returning Hives to the Wild

In recent years, the mysterious disappearance of bees has puzzled experts from across the world. In the United States alone, the honeybee population has dropped by 50 percent from midcentury levels, and 700 species of bees are now at risk of extinction. Scientists can’t really pin down the cause of the “bee apocalypse,” but point to the interplay of toxic pesticides, biodiversity loss, and climate change.

Michael Joshin Thiele, a German apiculturist based in California, thinks a solution may lie in returning bees to the wild. Since their appearance on our planet more than 100 million years ago, bees have been a keystone species for forest environments, where 90 percent of plant life depends on pollination. But with the onset of commercial beekeeping, bees have increasingly lived in settings that are not in line with their natural habitats.

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