“Our Bees, Ourselves” by Mark Winston, author of forthcoming “BeeTime: Lessons from the Hive”, is a frighteningly convincing essay about the parallels between Honeybee collapse and human environmental degradation and subsequent challenges to golbal health and habitat. Read it, bee-ware, bee-warned, and bee-inspired.
1. There is a noticeable reduction in the number of bees in our garden. Luring birds with (organic – arghhh, but yes!) sunflower and pumpkin seeds has been super effective. However pots of water and extra water near the bee “houses” and straw hives haven’t attracted a single resident. (We just want to house them – see them at work – not trying to harvest honey.)
2. We stopped spraying our lawn with “organic” herbicides/pesticides last year. I hand weeded dandelions, patches of clover and crab grass. This season we’re not even using conventional “organic” fertilizers… slowly wrapping my head around the beauty of a natural “lawn.”
3. This spring I was forbidden (Nathaniel, my organic gardener and conscience) to weed dandelions that survived last summer because the flowers produce one of the earliest sources of pollen for bees.
4. We’re making our own organic compost from organic veggies we’re purchasing from local certified organic farms, grounds from organic coffee, eggs from free range chickens (with names) that have eaten (Oh, I fervently hope) organic grains and grass… you get the idea. It’s challenging and expensive, but it’s good for the bees and birds, and for us.
5. Home-hives of friends, neighbors, and family have suffered collapse at an alarming rate. And they’re not loaning or leasing their (guys) for hard work pollinating only blueberries. Imagine if we ate only almonds in California before being trucked thousands of miles away for a diet of only cherries or apples.
6. Recent articles about human pollination practices in China due to the destruction of bee populations are alarming. How much would American farmers be willing to pay workers to pollinate blueberry and almond crops? How much would a blueberry or almond cost at the market IF they were available at all?
7. Props to Whole Foods who conceived of the Give Bees a Chance campaign. (Not a stock owner.) ONE teeny-tiny-insect portion/dose of a pesticide, herbicide, or conventional fertilizer might be certified USDA “safe” for a bee, but they can harvest pollen from blossoms in a two mile radius that have been treated with a wide variety of toxins that combine to create lethal doses, take them back to poison worker bees and the queen: hive collapse.
Most of us are eating those conventional fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses produced from animals feeding on those grains, and walking in parks, even on our own lawns, that have been chemically treated. By giving bees a chance we honor the global ecology and ourselves.