Honeybees & Hummingbirds

Honey Bee

Photo credit: Jack Picknell

Do you remember the Pete Seeger folk song from the 60’s, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, made famous by Peter, Paul & Mary?  We will need to write many more such songs for this new millennium, since plants, insects & animals are going extinct at an alarming rate driven by global climate change.  A case in point is our vitally important (to farmers and people who eat food) pollinators, such as honeybees and hummingbirds.

You have no doubt read about the precipitous honeybee decline from colony collapse disorder, in which the bees simply disappear from the hive.  There has been recent research to show that they are dying from exposure to pesticides called neonicotinoids, manufactured by Bayer, and used to coat seeds, thereby spreading to the whole plant systemically.  I refer you to a recent article in www.Grist.org, a great source for environmentally-related news.  The article can be found by clicking here:  More Evidence Links Pesticides to Honeybee Losses.

This is an extremely urgent problem that requires the EPA to regulate a powerful multinational corporation (Bayer) to stop production of the chemicals that are used in food production which is killing honeybees in astonishing numbers.  The article also mentions a Harvard study which points to the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used by beekeepers as substitute “nectar” during lean seasons.  This is made from corn that is impregnated with the neonicotinoids poisoning the bees!  So, if the bees survive the lean season with HFCS then go out to do their pollination tasks on plants that are grown with the poison in every part of the plant.  It’s a no-win situation for the bees, for certain unless EPA does protect them.

Then, I also read of the plight of hummingbirds, who are arriving too late to pollinate and feed on the nectar of glacier lilies in the North American west because the glacier lilies are blooming 17 days earlier than they used to, due to warming temperatures.  Hence, the hummingbirds miss their food source, and because they have a short (2 month) window of time in which to migrate from Central America and breed and raise their young, they will be disappearing if the flowers are gone.  Refer to the article in Science News from June 1, 2012 here:  Science News – Where have all the Hummingbirds Gone?

Both of these crucial pollinators are vital to our own human lives, in the web of life on our precious earth.  They make a powerful argument for growing organic crops, which replenish the soil and support the insect populations, birds and humans, and actually remove & sequester carbon source, thus reducing the CO2 causing climate change to worsen.  If you need some further inspiration, I highly encourage you to watch the breathtakingly beautiful video artwork by Louie Schwartzberg, using the Youtube link  below.  Life is fragile.  Do everything you can to nurture and protect it.



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