Entreaties from the Green Fairy
Hello in June!
I love sitting on my back porch to enjoy the nice weather and the flowers. The rhododendrons, columbines, bleeding hearts, and solomon seals have all bloomed. Soon the black eyed susans will be flowering too!
Early in the spring, the wind-pollinated grasses and trees were in full bloom with their teeny tiny flowers. Now, the plants with larger showy flowers are taking their turn. These larger flowers require more than wind for pollination. The bigger pollen grains need to be carried by animals such as birds, insects, or bats. Remember the Pollinators Goal in EcoFluxx? To win with this goal you need the Flowers, and either the Birds, Insects, or Air Keepers.
Now that the big flowers are out, so are the insects. I can see a ray of light peering through the trees thanks to the Tyndall effect. The insects acting as the scattering-of-light agents in this case. In EcoFluxx, the Insects Keeper includes butterflies, grasshoppers, flies, beetles, and bees. In my visits to the yard I often spot several butterflies. The other day I saw a cool shiny green beetle, and a little grasshopper jumped on my leg... But, wait a minute, where are the bees? I have seen a couple of bumble bees... but none of the regular honey bees...
I had heard the buzz about the population decline in honeybees... but I had no idea it was this bad. Scientists have even given it a name: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
They are finding bee colonies abandoned by the adults. Sometimes they find the queen and some surviving adults, plus a bunch of larvae still capped in their beds. They have found no dead bodies around the hive. Now, bees never abandon the babies... and leave the honey and bread behind too? Check what the Mid-Atlatntic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium has to say about it. Download the Frequently Asked Questions PDF. Scroll down to: How do I know if a colony has CCD?
The bee decline is worrisome for various reasons. Not only are fellow living creatures mysteriously disappearing, but we will not have honey, and many foods we eat require insect pollination, with bees doing most of the pollinating! Beekeeping is widespread throughout America. Crop pollination services are crucial for US agriculture. The intense levels of agriculture practiced in the US require the use of honeybees en mass for pollination services, so our current levels of production are totally dependent on beekeepers and their hives.
Yummy savories like almonds and other nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers will not be able to be produced at current commercial levels. Many sweet and tart goodies will become scarce. Foods like apples, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, citrus fruit, cantaloupe, watermelons, and their kin. Have you ever had an alfalfa ice pop? They are yummy and refreshing! And what are all the ruminants like cows going to eat? Clover fields will be greatly diminished.
Life without bees would not be as tasty and nutritional. In order to avoid this problem we need to know the cause(s) of CCD. However, up until now, it's still a mystery. There are several suspects, and research is being conducted to find out "who done it". Fungus, mites, parasites, pesticides and cell phones, amongst other things, have been called culprits, but there is not enough evidence on any one of them to be named the guilty party.
The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium is investigating potential causes of CCD in order of likelyhood. Download the FAQ PDF and check out the things being investigated (and not investigated). Besides the things mentioned above, there are other causes of CCD that have been suggested, such as genetically modified foods (GMOs) and cell phones, but aren't under investigation because they are not likely causes.
So what can we do? Let's talk about it on the Eco list. For starters, just being environmentally mindful would be a good thing. That is, consuming organic produce, not spraying our lawns with pesticides... Hopefully the cause(s) will be found soon so we can act!
Meanwhile, I am going to be enjoying strawberries from the patch, and later on some tomatoes. Mmmmmm summer is here!
Peace to you and yours,