I was looking at my tomato plants the other day and wondering why there were plenty of flowers but no sign of tomatoes – I thought at the time it was a lack of bees.
Then lo and behold this article appears: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20140317/NEWS/140319789 confirming it, again. No bees.
What people overlook, when they inevitably go ‘oh dear, such nice creatures’, is the fundamental role they play. Every child learns about pollination when they are at school. It seems as we grow older we forget about that and take the produce on the supermarket shelves for granted.
We’ve become accustomed to nicely packaged cabbages with no bugs on them. Our cauliflowers come shrink wrapped and clean. We build over green space, we use pesticides and insecticides because we are a little uncomfortable about a couple of bugs that might bother us.
All the time there are implications. One of those is the seemingly terminal decline of the bee population here and across the world.
Why does that matter? Well, consider Halloween without pumpkins. Consider summer without cooling watermelon. Or consider this – pumpkins selling at $75 each because they are so rare and have to be imported from New Zealand as that is the only place left with bees. Imagine tomatoes at $20 a kilo/pound.
Imagine the hardship it could causes local farmers who will have to look to new crops that do not need bees to produce fruit and which are suitable to grow in Bermuda.
Last time I looked also, I did not see any local honey on the supermarket shelves?
What can we do? We can find a little space to plant flowers and shrubs that bees (and butterflies) like – go to the garden centres here and ask – and we can cut down on the amount of insecticide we use, it really is not necessary.
Bees seem cute, they seem insignificant, but they are hugely important. Wake up, we need them.