I was standing under my large crab apple tree when my wife Nancee asked me where all the bees were. In past years we used to hang around my crab apple trees and just listen to the hum of the bees. It was an amazing sound and fun to watch. Since planting a few trees I quickly learned how vital bees are for pollinating apple blossoms. Most of my trees are reliant on other apple trees, including the big crab, to pollinate the flowering trees so I get apples later in the year. Without bees, that’s not going to happen.
The same can be said about my garden, especially when it comes to the large, yellow fluted squash and pumpkin flowers. They need bees to pollinate them too. I was amazed at all the different bees I saw working the pollination shift. But things are different this year. At first I thought it might be due to the late spring. I’m sure that’s one piece of the puzzle, but this situation is much larger than my little garden and 10 tree orchard. Most plants in the world which produce our food rely on bees and pollination to survive and thrive. It’s a fact: Pollination is necessary for the survival of mankind!
It’s long been documented that honeybees are disappearing from hives. The causes are obvious to many of us – pesticide use and habitat loss. Of course, politicians and policy makers are not helping the situation, although I did hear that honeybee hives are now legal in Minneapolis after being banned for 30 years. Agricultural chemicals and massive acres of row crops have replaced anything wild and natural to bees. Family farmers who planted more varied crops used to set aside land for bees and wildlife. It seems that corporate farmers simply don’t care about poisoning the bees. Don’t they know they’re poisoning everyone by releasing chemicals into our air, water and land every day of the year?
Last week I watched a large truck from USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) spray my ditch in what I thought was an effort to control tree growth and save man-hours and money. I tried to call the USDA in a county just north of me and was told by a machine that the number I was calling was out of calling area, which seemed a little weird for someone with a cell phone. My next attempt was to the closest USDA office in St. Paul and they simply did not pick up. Another machine picked up and said no one was answering. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Then I tried the USDA office in Madison where I actually reached someone at the Consumer Protection Agency. This lady told me in no uncertain words that they do not handle issues like mine and gave me another number. I thanked her and asked why Consumer Protection didn’t cover what I thought may be harmful roadside spraying. Then, in that rude, gruff voice she told me that she would connect me to another office that might be able to help me. Of course, I got a machine that said they are out of the office for more than a week. That’s the buzz for now …….to bee continued …… Pun intended…..
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org