Will Armageddon be world hunger?
A couple of years ago I noticed that in Spring there were very few bees buzzing around our fruit tree blossoms. The crop was minimal but I put it down to the fact that the trees were young. It happened again this year, with still tiny crops of fruit. In New Zealand the cause may be because of a Varroa Mite that kills off bees in hives.
A busy bee that could mean my garden produces food next year
Reacting as I do to bee stings, I normally prune the flower heads off this plant so that I can sit on the deck without fear of a sting. This year I didn’t. In fact, I have rejoiced in the number of honey bees and bumble bees feasting on the nectar. I hope the food they have gathered this autumn will produce a good harvest of worker bees in the spring.
An environmental holocaust?
Alarming news comes from abroad via Ricken Patel of Avaaz that: “Already, there are nowhere near enough honeybees in Europe to pollinate the crops, and in California — the biggest food producer in the US — beekeepers are losing 40% of their bees each year. We’re in the middle of an environmental holocaust that threatens all of us, because without pollination by bees, most plants and ⅓ of our food supply are gone. “
Even scientists are raising the alarm over the trend and say it’s pesticides that are causing the decline in the bee population. This reduction in natural pollination could lead to a world-wide disaster that will hit us quickly. Within years, we could all be facing mass starvation as regularly suffered by African nations.
Pesticides kill all insects including bees
In striving to produce perfect, unblemished fruit and vegetables major producers are expected to apply pesticides. And we shoppers are part of the problem. We pick over the produce and reject any with blemishes. Good food is thrown away because it has the tiniest of marks. Gone are the days when housewives would pick over windfalls and cut out the problems. Now we expect to start with perfect specimens.
Could we increasingly see empty sparse gardens?
The problem with pesticides is that they don’t discriminate – if you have six legs, wings and a thorax, you’re the enemy. bang, bang you’re dead. There goes our natural sweetener and the potential productive garden we hope for next year.
But it will also mean mass plantings of plants like peas, beans, pumpkins, lemons and oranges, apples and pears, stone fruit and grapes (oh, there goes our wine crop) will not be pollinated. Add to that the fact that plants like onions, carrots, silverbeet and spinach that produce seed-setting flowers after these plants are left “to go to seed” won’t do so. We’ll have a smaller seed crop to grow the following year. It’s a grim picture.
Reliable research is urgently need to protect bees
The pharmaceutical companies go to great lengths to claim that pesticides are not killing off bees. They spend megabucks in skewed science to “prove” it, but the few scientists and lay people who have been shouting “No. Please listen,” don’t have access to that kind of money. To help, AVAAZ has launched an appeal to concerned members of the public to donate a small amount to fund definitive, totally independent research to show what is killing off our bee population.
Visit the AVAAZ website here to join the movement to find out how to save the bees.
Do your bit locally to protect honey bees
Here are some ways you can help honey bees survive:
- Stop spraying your flowering plants with pesticides – rejoice when the bees visit
- Plant flowering and fruiting plants in abundance around your property
- Talk to your neighbours about making your area a pesticide-free zone
- If you find a honey bee swarm, call up a local beekeeper, don’t try to exterminate them
- Avoid de-heading flowering plants until they’ve given local bees a good feed
- Talk to your council or local body about their spraying policy and lobby to have them remove pesticides from their spraying program
- Encourage your council or local body to plant reserves and grass verges with flowering shrubs and plants – Yarrow, a common white roadside flower is loved by bees
And just for fun take a look at what could bee our future: