Bees can’t smell the roses

Posted May 6th, 2008 in Featured Comments Off on Bees can’t smell the roses

You’ve heard about the crisis of the bees — bee colony collapse, the mysterious disappearance of millions of bees necessary for the pollination of flowers — for the food we eat, for the gardens we plant.

The pollination of crops by bees is responsible for a third of the food produced in the US.

So says England’s BBC.

No one cause has been found, rather bunches of possible causes, from global warming to the widespread use of pesticides in industrial agriculture to development that has interfered with their migration patterns to overuse of industrial bees, and more.

All of these may be factors. But a new study shows that one major contributor is — air pollution.

Air pollution. What industrial smog means is that bees literally cannot smell the flowers. If they can’t smell them, they can’t find them. If they can’t find them, they can’t pollinate them.

If plants are not pollinated, very, very bad things happen.

You may have noticed on this blog — and this is at the heart of the Spirituality and Ecological Hope project — we have an ecological challenge that is not just about global warming. We, frankly, get frustrated that all the media focus is on global warming. We know that, even if the Earth was not warming dangerously, we would still be in ecological trouble.

bumblebee-on-flowers.jpg The bees are having trouble getting to the flowers because of air pollution. It is about our industrial society. It is about our unwillingness to curb our excess, to curb our consumption, to insist that corporations stop polluting our air, even if that means paying more for our affluent consumption.

If the bees can’t find the flowers, our ecosystems are in grave trouble. If the bees can’t find the flowers, they cannot pollinate the plants that ecosytems, and our food production systems, need to survive.

From a NY Times Op-Ed by May R. Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois, one year ago:

More than 90 crops in North America rely on honeybees to transport pollen from flower to flower, effecting fertilization and allowing production of fruit and seed. The amazing versatility of the species is worth an estimated $14 billion a year to the United States economy.

Approximately one-third of the typical American’s diet (primarily the healthiest part) is directly or indirectly the result of honey bee pollination.

That’s what is at stake here.

The problem described in this article is a sign not of global warming this time but of ecosystem degradation. And we’re coming close to degrading those ecosystems to the point of breakdown.

Like it or not, the bees are part of the lifelines we need to live. They are creatures with whom we must have a healthy mutually enhancing relationship.

We must clean up our world. We must learn to submit our wants and desires to the real working limits and life processes of the planet. We are in relationship with our all our fellow creatures. When we finally begin to realize the importance of living in balance and mutual respect with them, we will begin to live as if our lives depend upon that balance.

Here’s the thing — they do.

Last thought: if air pollution is doing this to the bees, imagine what it is doing to us, to our children, to the little people coming up after us. What kind of world are we leaving them?

What will it be like to live in a world in which we can no longer smell the flowers?

[tags] bee colony collapse, balance of life, bee pollination, ecosystems degradation, air pollution[/tags]


Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.