Thursday, May 27, 2010

Save the bees: support organic farmers

Beeline to Extinction
Naomi Starkman, San Francisco Chronicle: ...A 'keystone' species -- one that has a disproportionate effect on the environment relative to its biomass -- bees are our key to global food security and a critical part of the food chain. Flowering plants that produce our food depend on insects for pollination. There are other pollinators... but the honeybee is the most effective... Without honeybees, our diet would be mostly meatless, consisting of rice and cereals, and we would have no cotton for textiles. The entire ecosystem and the global food supply potentially rests on their wings.

Experts now believe bees are headed for extinction and are racing to pinpoint the culprit, increasingly blaming pesticide usage... Few organic beekeepers have reported bee losses, suggesting that natural and organic bee keeping methods may be the solution...

Time might be running out for the bees, but there are simple actions we can take to make a difference. First, support organic farmers who don't use pesticides and whose growing methods work in harmony with the natural life of bees... Don't use pesticides in your home garden, especially at mid-day when bees most likely forage for nectar. You can also plant good nectar sources such as red clover, foxglove, bee balm, and other native plants to encourage bees to pollinate your garden. Provide clean water; even a simple bowl of water is beneficial.

Buy local honey; it keeps small, diversified beekeepers in business, and beekeepers keep honeybees thriving. In addition, you can start keeping bees yourself. Backyard and other urban beekeeping can actively help bring back our bees. Finally, you can work to preserve more open cropland and rangeland. Let's use our political voices to support smart land use, the impact of which will not only result in cleaner water, soil, and air, but also just might help save the humble honeybee.
Image source here.