“Yeah,,,sorry. I’m not feeling so great. Really not sure I’m up to… you know, my duties and all,” droned Dudley.
Just then Wendy Worker buzzed by covered in fragrant lilac pollen. “Oh, excuse me; didn’t mean to interrupt,” blushed Wendy. “Not at all,” Queenie replied. “Come on in and have some nectar. You look exhausted!” “Thanks, I will,” Wendy said gratefully. “I feel like I’m coming down with something.”
Later that day, Dudley (whose mastery of the English language is surprising!) overheard a conversation between hive-keeper Jones and the county Ag. agent. He learned about “colony collapse,” a deadly disorder that has spread across the country. This condition destroys as many as one-third to one-half of bee colonies each year. Failure of these colonies to thrive results from a combination of factors including:
- Malnutrition resulting from disappearing habitat
- Disease and parasites that take advantage of weakened immune systems
- Climate change and
- Agro-chemical and pesticide use.
Especially troublesome are a class of pesticides know as neonicotinoids. These poisons are absorbed into a plant’s vascular system making the entire plant toxic even to non-targeted insects like bees. Ironically, in an effort to boost agricultural production, humankind is actually threatening the very foundations of food production. Destroying habitat to create large mono-crop fields and spraying “neonics” and the like squeezes out pollinators like bees and other natural pest deterrents. Dudley flew back to Queenie to report all he’d learned.
Queenie carefully considered all he said and then finally spoke. “We bees have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with humans. They say that without our fellow pollinators and us one out of every three bites humans take would vanish. Together we grow fruits, nuts, vegetables and alfalfa that feeds their cattle. In return hive-keepers like Jones help propagate our species.
“Human farmers and home owners are smart and, I hope, wise enough to tackle this problem. Reducing pesticide use and creating plenty of balanced habitat will keep bees and humans healthier. Because they know that we, along with all plants and animals, have no other place to go. We’ll either thrive together on this earth or not; we’re forever… Earthbound.”