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.