It feels like I've written this blog before, but a quick search tells me I haven't. Either way, a recent story brought this topic to my attention again...
On May 21, 2014, a tractor-trailer full of beehives crashed on the highway in Delaware, "accidentally" freeing millions of bees. No one was seriously injured, other than by a few bee stings. The tone of the CBS Philly news report is somewhat quaint and surprised. No one seems to question the rationale behind transporting 16 to 20 MILLION honeybees from Florida to Maine, in a truck, to pollinate crops.
In the Disney version of this story, you have to think that the bees planned some sort of prison breakout. They got together, buzzed about it, and all decided to lean at the same time to knock the truck over so they could find their freedom in nature, where they belong.
It's kind of funny and cute, but then again, it isn't. I mean, what kind of world do we live in that we need to truck bees up and down and over the whole country? And then we wonder why their colonies are collapsing! What have we done?
We know the answer to why the colonies are collapsing: insecticides. Which is the EXACT SAME REASON bees are nowhere to be found in the orchards and farm fields where they are desperately needed as pollinators in the first place... because bees are INSECTS. And as the name implies, insecticides kill insects. (By the way, many insecticides are neurotoxins, which means they are also toxic to people and pets, especially small children.)
Does that make it OK to capture bees and use them for toxic forced labor doing something that they would happily do willingly and for free if they weren't POISONED TO DEATH?! That is, I believe, a rhetorical question.
Sometimes people, as much as I love them, can be so insensitive and unthinking. As long as their fruits and vegetables are cheap and readily available, they really don't give a rat's butt about the bees. Besides, bees sting, dagnabbit! And the scientists and business people who revert to the "let's be realistic" argument are just as insensitive and unthinking to believe they're justifying an insect genocide and then forced slavery of the surviving insects.
Here is a quote from Satish Kumar, the editor of a British magazine called Resurgence & Ecologist, which I used to read regularly. He is a true leader of the peace and environmental movement:
Look at what realists have done for us. They have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. I tell people who call me "unrealistic" to show me what their realism has done. Realism is an outdated, overplayed, and wholly exaggerated concept.
Yes, I think the bees quite like Mr. Kumar.
The irony is that the real reason all these destructive practices take place is that someone, somewhere, is making money off them, and people will do strange things for money. They do so even though there is one small problem with money -- it can't buy happiness, health, or survival of the species. Or survival of the bees.
Only each and every one of us making the right choices (demand organic!) can free the bees from forced slavery. And in freeing the bees, we are ensuring a healthy future for us all.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com
Follow Maria Rodale on Twitter: www.twitter.com/farmkitchenblog