Growing up in the 60’s, Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? was a song we sang around the campfire that made us think about what was going on in our world. Today, it may be even more applicable.
In an article written by The Guardian, South Carolina sprayed insecticides, including one called naled, in an effort to control the spread of the Zika virus. Neither residents nor beekeepers were properly notified. South Carolina bee hobbyist Andrew Macke said, “Have we lost our mind? Spraying poison from the sky?”
But experts at the CDC and the EPA says that the neurotoxin naled “can be used for public health mosquito control programs without posing risks to people.” But Neurotoxins are poisons that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature nervous tissue. The insecticide was banned from the European Union 2005.
But it obviously does pose a health risk to bees and to colony collapse. Bees are responsible for over one-third of all of our foods around the world. And if the pesticides can kill the bees at such a fast rate, what are the repercussions on the hives long term? What are the long-term effects on children, wildlife, plants, and other insects?
As we all know, the use of pesticides is nothing new and the decline of the bee population is nothing new. As Marla Spivak describes in her TED Talk, Why bees are disappearing, the end of WW2 brought about several changes in farming practices which had adverse effects on the bees and our food.
discontinued planting alfalfa and clover which provided nourishment to the land and to the bees
started using pesticides and herbicides to control pests but killed the bees
started planting mono-crops which destroyed diversity in pollination
Today, with the ever-growing agribusiness, more and more chemicals are used and more mono-crop farms are being created, killing more and more bees.
So, is there any hope? Yes. And it all starts with each one of us. When every person takes responsibility for our earth, we can make a difference. Here are five ways to help our disappearing bees:
1. Plant things that bees like
- Plant bee-friendly flowers that are native to your area and don’t contaminate them with pesticides. Pesticides are bad for humans. They're worse for bees.
2. Provide bee habitats
- Campaign to have bee-friendly flowers planted throughout your community. Plant roadsides in flowers. Plant cover crops. Encourage farmers to plant flowering crop borders.
3. Eliminate garden pesticides
Investigate organic and natural means of pest control. You'll find plenty of tips at OrganicGardenPests.com. Moving in the direction of organic gardening and natural lawn care is a healthy choice, in any case.
4. Let your veggies bolt
- Allow a few leafy vegetables in your home garden to "bolt," or go to seed, after harvest. Seeding plants are a bee's best chance to stock up on food before the colder months.
5. Support your local beekeepers
- Seek out your local beekeepers and buy their honey. There are health benefits to eating local honey, and keeping small beekeepers in business is good for everyone.
Working together, planting lots of bee-friendly plants and flowers, perhaps we will never have to worry about where have all the flowers gone. Want more info about bees? Check out these films!
5 Must-see Documentaries about bees
- More than Honey (2012) by Markus Imhoof
- Queen of the Sun: what are the bees telling us? (2010) by Taggart Siegel
- Vanishing of the Bees (2009) by George Langworthy and Maryam Henein
- Who killed the honey bees? (2009) by James Esrkine
- The Last Beekeeper (2008) by Jeremy Simmons
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