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We Are Not Alone

 
Bees

 

“In nature, nothing exists alone.” — Rachel Carson, 1962   Our world is changing. Maybe there was a boat leaving Middle Earth that we missed. But you don’t need Galadriel to tell you that mankind is having an effect on the planet. And despite chilling warnings and obvious struggles around us as Nature fights to survive humanity, we continue to pollute and punish the earth and, as a direct result, ourselves.

We cannot exist without the support of our natural world and its resources. This is heartbreakingly evident in the plight of bees and other pollinators. The population of these vital creatures has declined drastically in the past few years.

“From apples to zucchini, bees alone pollinate $15 billion worth of U.S. crops every year. But bees are dying—an alarming 40 percent of honeybee colonies collapsed from spring 2017 to 2018, and more and more of our 4,000-plus species of wild bees, like the rusty patched bumblebee, are edging toward extinction.” (https://www.nrdc.org/save-bees)

Much of the onus is on chemicals that kill weeds (where weeds mean nature’s first food in spring). This is what bees eat. Dandelions and their friends are sources of food. And we spray them with poison that has come close to annihilating the entire bee population.  

But other factors are involved too. We are dealing with a worldwide bee colony collapse. It’s a systemic epidemic. Poisons sprayed on food sources, polluted waters, habitat destruction, and many more symptoms of the greater illness have dwindled a once-thriving ecosystem and killed off species vital to our own survival. Yes, our very existence hinges on the survival of the bee population. This systemic epidemic cannot go on. And though the numbers are dire, there is something, actually several somethings, we can do.

Plant Food and Offer Shelter for Pollinators

Plant bee and pollinator-friendly plants, annuals, and perennials like flowers and herbs, even fruit trees, that will feed them. Build bee boxes in the wild and around your property if you are comfortable with bees (if you have more room, they can be more distant).

Stop Spraying So-Called Weeds

Dandelions are NOT weeds. They are not just nature’s first food source for bees, they are also good for people. From medicinal applications to food, the dandelion is a versatile, vital plant to our ecosystems and an important link to keeping the bees alive. We found 16 recipes to try using dandelions on the Prairie Homestead website. While we haven't tried them, they look interesting and pretty easy. Follow this LINK to give them a shot. 

Support Beekeepers

Buy your honey locally from beekeepers whose bees are likely helping pollinate your plants and local fruits and veggies. Donate to them, help fund new hives, and spread the word.

Keep Your Own Bees

Consider becoming a small-time beekeeper yourself. It takes very little effort to set up and will reap many rewards, especially if you have plants like flowers and food crops/fruit trees that will benefit from the bees being near. Ask your local beekeeper or your Agricultural Extension agent for help. Also, if there are farmers in your area, they will love to host your hives to help get their crops ready to produce.

Here are links to the Beekeeper Associations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. You'll find lots of great information to get started or just to learn more about bees.

Become an Advocate for Bees and Pollinators

Tell someone the plight the bees face. Tell them how it is all connected. We can’t live without bees. It’s that simple.

In nature, as Rachel Carson said, nothing exists alone. The domino effect of losing bees is one you don’t want to let continue to fall. It’s time to do something. Our survival depends on theirs. Hamlet had it right when he said, To Bee or Not to Bee … indeed, that is the question.