Honey Bees and Silent Meadows
So we’re all aware of how the popular press operates. A headline grabber one day, yesterday’s news the next. One could easily believe that the issues of yesterday have passed. One should know by now, that that could be a terrible mistake. Take the plight of the honey bee for instance. Several years ago, you could barely turn the news on without hearing the dire straights they were in. Everyone was concerned and rightly so. Every third bite of food you take requires a honey bee. Yet today, we don’t hear much about the problems bees face. Have things improved? Hardly. In fact the spring of 2010 is proving to be the worst year yet.
90% of wild colonies are gone due to their weakened state. Commercial keepers are reporting 50% losses. Hobby keepers reported 50-80% of their colonies are dead. many beekeepers are not replacing hives because they can not afford to stay in the business. If this continues, they will cease to exist by the year 2035. Without them fruits and vegetables with seeds will disappear. The impact on our wild fauna would be devastating. Make no mistake. We can not survive without them. In some areas of China where villagers depend on fruit crops for economic survival, crops are pollinated by hand. Yields are small and unreliable. This is not a viable solution. The honey bee is gone there. Killed by pesticides long before CCD ever surfaced.
Scientists have confirmed these factors all play a role: Pesticides, antibiotics, herbicides and environmental chemicals. Stress due to profit driven management practices. Loss of plant diversity due to today’s farming practices. The desire to eradicate ‘weeds’ and native species from urban areas, unrestricted development and the rise of the factory farm which has lead to a loss of sustainable farming methods. In addition, the introduction of genetically modified crops. Unsound environmental choices have brought bees to the point that they can’t survive. We are all responsible for this tragedy. Yes, all of us. As consumers, our desire for ‘perfect’ fruits and vegetables year round as well as the perfect lawn and garden has contributed immensely.
It is extremely challenging to keep bees today. It is more challenging to work for change in a world that does not recognize the absolute need for it. Nature is balance. When man tinkers with that balance, with rare exceptions, the result is imbalance. The solution to us is simple. It is in the hands of consumers. Without it, change will not occur. Buy local and buy organic. Understand that blemishes and imperfections in your organic produce are natural and acceptable and represent nature’s ‘stamp’ of pesticide free, nutritionally superior foods. Understand that your perception of a beautiful lawn and garden is just that…your perception.
When I was a child every yard had a vegetable garden. Dandelions in the lawn were a wonderful sign of summer. We ran barefoot through them, dodging the honey bees, picking their blossoms and amusing ourselves with their puff balls. Ask yourself where have they gone and why? Would you rather have your children and pets play in a sea of perfect green? That perfect green is full of chemical residuals. An eco-lawn dotted with wildflowers and native plants is nature’s design. A garden which allows for wild species is too. Think it can’t be beautiful? Then you haven’t spent a summer afternoon in a place like Meadowlake Farm.
Sally J. Leachko holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and dual degrees in Architectural and Construction Design. She’s enjoyed long careers as a Commercial Architect and Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. After founding Meadowlake Farm Products she was invited to become a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Long before organics and sustainability came into vogue she established Meadowlake Farm, driven by her dedication to a healthy lifestyle, her love of science and commitment to environmental and ecological concerns. Her company, Meadowlake Farm Products, produces fine organic honey based skin care from the botanicals and bee products generated on her farm. Visit them at www.beehiveskintherapies.com.
Meadowlake Farm is a sanctuary for endangered medicinal plant species and organic honey bee colonies. It is a member of the National Resource Defense Council, United Plant Savers, the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation and the American Botanical Society.