Don’t laugh. Don’t snicker. Don’t roll your eyes. Just read this and reflect on it. Please.
For the last several weeks, we’ve been doing this odd thing: We’ll be driving around and whenever we see a stretch of flowering plants at the side of the road, we’ll stop the car, we’ll get out and we will inspect the blossoms. We’re looking for bees, honey bees, to be exact.
The honey bee is brownish and is to be distinguished from the bumble bee, which is yellowish. Both are pollinators, which in the natural world have exalted status.
The honey bee is at issue. You’ve probably read something about CCD – colony collapse disorder. It’s when entire bee hives die off. It’s said that honey bee populations have declined by more than a third over the last 10 years. Butterfly populations have declined sharply, as well.
Like you, we are skeptical of what we read in the media. Everything is always hyped. It’s frequently bullshit. And yet the sources cited in these stories and the consistency of what they are saying gives us pause.
Without pollinators, without a robust, healthy population of honey bees, there’s less honey in the world – literally and figuratively. Moreover, crop yields decline and there are a host of other adverse changes in the environment.
It’s a troubling prospect – one you can ignore, or spend a little time looking into.
Start with some informal field research: Look for wildflowers – clover, asters, dandelions or daisies will do nicely, or look for a clump of honeysuckle bushes, or a field of goldenrod. Then, staying as close to the flowers as you can, walk in a straight line counting off twenty paces. By the time you get to the twentieth step, you should have seen 10 honey bees.
We’ve been doing this repeatedly in recent days and we haven’t encountered more than four honeybees in 20 paces. Sometimes we didn’t see any.
We think we remember being children, and we think there were a lot more honey bees then. Of course, that’s subjective as hell. And yet, when you actually go looking for a honey bee and you can’t find one at all, well, that’s alarming.
So, what can be done?
You can plant flowers bees love. Google that.
You can advise anyone you know who is poised to zap a honey bee hive with chemicals to call in a person who “rescues” the hives. It’s free.
Most importantly, you can cut way back on pesticide use.
In the near future, there might be more things individuals and states can do. In this regard, Cuomo recently did a good thing in creating a Pollinator Protection Task Force in New York. It’s supposed to issue a report soon.
In the meantime, check out this website for more info: http://www.pollinator.org/