For such clever critters, we can be remarkably dumb

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Photograph by Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel

Yesterday, Treehugger reported on a scientific study on bee deaths. Bee populations have been declining alarmingly all over the world in recent years. Find the original research article here (the abstract is not complicated) and Threehugger’s article here.

Basically, the study reports that a mix of pesticides and fungicides found in pollen collected by honey bees increases their susceptibility to nosema ceranae, a parasite that is believed to cause Colony Collapse Disorder, one of the major causes of hive destruction.

Although I am pleased that there is now  hard scientific evidence to support this little piece of common sense, I am wondering how it can apparently come as such a surprise. Were we not once just about the cleverest things on earth?

Even the simplest household chemical comes with a warning: DON’T MIX WITH OTHER CHEMICALS!

It stands to reason that any living creature exposed to a mix of chemicals (which are known to be toxic individually) would die eventually. I think our bees have done a pretty good job staying alive to date.

So when are we going to wake up? If pesticides, fungicides and intensive modern farming methods are collectively killing our bees, what do you think they are doing to our children?

What can you do?

Start in your own homes and gardens. Seek out natural, environmentally safe alternatives to any household chemical you are using. There are plenty of ecologically sound options to replace pesticides and fungicides in your gardens, as well.

Visit your local farmer’s market or buy organically grown produce at your supermarket. Yes, your apples and bread may cost a bit more but that will only encourage you to stop wasting food – definitely not a bad thing if you know that fully one third of the world’s entire food production goes to waste every year!

To help bees (and butterflies) survive, plant shrubs and sow flowers (preferably from organically reproduced seed!) that provide pollen for bees. Most garden centres can tell you which varieties are best and many even sell bee mixtures suitable for your climate and region.

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I live in Holland and use Tübingermengsel from De Bolster, a biodynamic seed production company.

It is time for us to accept that we cannot have it all. The modern economic system has tried to convince us that we can, but there is always a price to pay.

I, for one, am thoroughly ashamed I lived for so long without thinking about who and what was paying the price for my convenience.

What are you going to do to save our bees?

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