Sunday, May 02, 2010

Pollination


Regular readers will know that, facing almost no insects in my yard when my fruit trees were in bloom, I went back and forth between trees with a swiffer duster, occasionally saying to myself, "Buzz, buzz, buzz." I was trying to do what my neighborhood does not have enough insects to do, namely cross-pollinate my fruit trees. The result: they are laden with fruit this year after two years with no peaches whatsoever.

I am grateful to the co-worker who suggested this. But this approach, while adequate in my small backyard with semi-dwarf fruit trees that are only a few years old, cannot solve the issue of pollinating the world's crops.

Tonight I read the following by FishOutofWater:
The honey bee population decline deepened this winter after over a third of all American colonies failed for a fourth winter in a row. Globally over 3 million honey bee colonies have been lost since colony collapse disorder was first observed in 1996. The collapse of honey bee populations threatens the production of crops dependent on pollinators.
This issue poses a greater threat to humanity than military skirmishes and potential terrorists. Ponder global crop failure, starvation, food riots, etc.

This is really big.

It does not garner headlines on the cable news networks. Although pollination is all about sex, this is not the kind that makes for lurid news. There are no celebrities or politicians involved.

There are multiple issues involved in colony collapse disorder but the likeliest major culprit is pesticides, coupled with parasites. Here - from FishOutofWater - is an example of hope. It would, however, take a total reordering of food production in major developed nations.
I recently spoke with the proprietor of "Bee Blessed" honey at the Raleigh, NC farmers market. He had a very good winter despite the long cold spell that began in January. He lost a few colonies to malnutrition due to the effects of the weather. What's his secret? He runs an organic farm. He keeps his bees well fed. He monitors his bees carefully. He makes sure his colonies have tight cells so that bees can keep mites out.

He explained to me last year, when I was investigating the causes of colony collapse that bees face an increasing number of parasites and threats compared to when he started his business after retiring from the Army. The modern beekeeper must work harder to keep bees well fed and healthy. His well kept organic farm in Tarboro has healthy bees.

God bless the bees and the children.

--the BB

5 comments:

it's margaret said...

Yes. This is disastrous.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tom kept bees for a good long time. One year, he lost all his hives but one to the wax moth. Mites were troublesome, too. The loss of bees is a catastrophe. A man in the area still keeps bees in our back yard, using Tom's equipment, and we're glad he does.

BooCat said...

We have a beekeeper south of town who has the most wonderful honey. I met him when he began coming to "Homegrown Alabama," a local farmers' market that operates in conjunction with our church. They set up on our lawn every Thursday from the first week in May until the end October. I am looking forward to some of Mr. Hewitt's honey this week.
Why are there no bees where you are, Paul? Do they not live in the Southwest? How do things in the wild get pollinated?

The Cunning Runt said...

You make a fine bee, my friend.

I'm praying for our world, and that we find a solution to this problem It's truly awful.

Paul said...

We do have bees, Boocat, but not many. Other insects do a lot of the work, I suspect. I live in a new tract in a house not yet four years old. We have no mature trees and nothing but sagebrush and tumbleweeds in the vast expanses just blocks away. Many back yards are still little more than sandboxes. Mine is probably the most intensively planted within a few mile radius. There are not many birds in the neighborhood either - not much in the way of vegetative shelter or insects to dine on. Well, there are some doves that crap on my front porch and ubiquitous crows throughout this state.

There are enough insects to feed a few lizards (I have always had at least one hanging out in the yard and this year I am sure there are several). I have seen a number of butterflies and moths in the past couple of weeks now that I have all manner of blooming things. I think the many ladybugs in the yard came with the roses from the nursery but I rejoice to see them all over of an afternoon.

All this will change as the landscaping here takes hold. The trees along the street are edging out of the semi-dwarf size though they are far from mature.

There is a lot of agriculture along the Rio Grande Valley so I know there are bees. just not many out here near the city limits.