Ever have a time when you think you’ve heard everything, then another weird announcement buzzes about on the news and the interwebs? A very sad announcement that came out recently was the addition of the rusty-patched bumblebee to the endangered species list. Unfortunately, climate change, the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and destruction of habitat does not exactly render this announcement as mysterious.
One of the weirdest follow-ups to the endangered bee story was the proposal to use robotic “bees” to aid in pollination of crops. I’m not kidding about this; there are actual efforts in progress to perfect a robotic bee!! This announcement made me even more sad than the prospective loss of bee populations. While some might find robo-bees to be a fascinating credit to modern science, my strong belief is that such inventions do much more harm than good to our environment as a whole.
Human nature, it seems, is always looking for a magical way out of difficult and complex problems. I’d much rather hear more information about how to save our bees; not replace them with machines. After all, our bees, along with many other species, are endangered because of the poisoning of our planet. All the man-made materials used to make robo-bees and other drone type flying machines are produced at no small cost to the environment.
One report I read speaks about using robo-bees in conjunction with real bees to achieve better coverage of crops needing pollination. Seems to me these “geniuses” are missing something very important: robo-bees have tiny propellers. What happens when they collide with a real bee? I’m guessing the bee loses a leg or two, or three, or an eye, or… well you see what I mean. So, we’re already losing bees to other environmental stressors, and now we have scientists who want to surround them with tiny little helicopters?? Oy yoy yoy.
Thankfully, when people learn that bumblebees are endangered, lots of folks want to know what to do to save them. At least, I sure hope they do. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been raising food organically for going over 40 years; so many of the techniques are second nature to us.
Here are some simple things everyone can do to help bees thrive:
- Buy organically grown produce whenever possible. This ensures that pesticides and / or herbicides were not part of the farming process. In the past, organic fruits and vegetables were an anomaly at the stores, now they’re very commonplace and price competitive. That’s because normal folk became interested in knowing how their food was grown.
- Plant wildflowers and / or flowering trees. Simple, right? Seriously, plant flowers, especially away from where you’re going to mow. Everyone knows that will help the bees. Try to be especially sensitive to the fact that bees need to feed all season long; so different types of flowers can be selected to ensure there is food available during the entire feeding season.
- Weeds can be very beneficial. Say what?? That’s right… a lawn full of dandelions or clover is a veritable buffet for bees. Many other, taller growing weeds have flowers that bees depend on (please refer back to item # 2).
- Do not use pesticides or herbicides in your garden or lawn. These are poison to many forms of life, of which bees are a small group. Too much of the public has been bombarded with chemical solutions for pest and weed management. Speaking from a gardener’s perspective, I would rather see a crop fail than to use poisons to control pests. However, by learning techniques like companion planting and crop rotation, I’ve been blessed with many beautiful harvests of all sorts of vegetables.
- Work to preserve habitats. You know that old hollow tree out back? Should have been cut down years ago, yes? Well maybe not: hollow trees provide shelter for bees and other pollinators. Bumblebees will burrow into the ground, so if there are any mounds or abandoned burrows from rabbits, etc., pay attention; the bees may be nesting there.
Long story longer, if we just take a little more time learning about what Mother Nature needs from us, we can help her stay healthy. And if our Mother Earth is healthy, there will be no need for robo-bees. So please, don’t bee a robot. Don’t assume that pesticides and herbicides are safe. If you don’t grow your own, learn where your food comes from and how it is grown. And by all means, let your representatives know your concerns about keeping our environment clean and healthy for all creatures.
Sorry, science kids, robo-bees are not natural!!
Maybe if all bees could be like the one who stood up to Donald Duck; they’d have a fighting chance…