Seeds on Ice: Svalgard Global Seed Vault and Saving Honeybees

Reader Contribution by Melanie M. Kirby and Zia Queen Bees

A few weeks ago I heard a wonderful interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross of National Public Radio. She interviewed Dr. Cary Fowler, who is known as the “father” of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. His vision to create a repository of seeds such that they could be preserved and routinely released and propagated to keep biodiversity alive, is legendary.

Interestingly, he mentioned that sometimes he receives hate mail and has had his life threatened as some folks think he might be trying to hoard the seeds. But he reiterates time and again, that the purpose of the seed vault is to preserve them and share them for now and future generations.

He also mentioned that he had received a snarky remark as it relates to pollinators. The person who contacted him said something along the lines, “why save the seeds without saving the pollinators first.”

And Dr. Fowles responded by saying, “Well, I thought I would save that for you to do.” And he is so right! Not any single individual can save the whole world. But individual peoples, can work together to create and save great things.

What I found even more interesting is that Dr. Fowles mentioned the bee genetic repository that is in the works by Dr. Steve Sheppard and Dr. Brandon Hopkins at Washington State University. Dr. Hopkins is the leading expert on cryopreservation of honey bee drone semen and his efforts will live beyond his own lifetime.

I am so very proud to know both Dr. Sheppard and Dr. Hopkins and to be working alongside them to help preserve, conserve and share healthy honey bee stock with American beekeepers and beyond.

As my research under their tutelage develops, I will keep ME News readers posted….though we are in a pollinator crisis, the future is hopeful. Here is a link to more info about the Seeds on Ice book by Dr. Cary Fowler. And here are some links to several articles and a slide show in which I share information about “Bees as Seeds”- which discusses the quest and process to find, select, and share quality honey bee stock lines that are naturally resistant to pests and diseases; and that are adaptable to varying climates.

Bees and the AgroEcosystem [PDF]

Gathering Liquid Starlight from Many Flowers

SeedBroadcast Journal

Melanie M. Kirby is a professional apiculturist, honeybee breeder and consilience researcher based in New Mexico. She considers herself to be a seed saver — with the bees as the seeds — by finding and sharing quality stock lines with beekeepers around the nation and globe. In her spare time, Melanie makes honey wine and exquisite medicinal hive products and beeswax arts. Connect with Melanie at Zia Queen Bees and Rocky Mountain Survivor Queen Bee Cooperative. Read all of Melanie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.


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