It’s that time: the air is filled with …. stuff!
Maple seeds helicoptor down. Dusty white oak ‘flowers’ cover my patio and clog my gutters. I’m sneezing and sweeping. There’s a fly buzzing on the screen. I swat a mosquito. A cabbage butterfly and a honeybee cruise by.
This week members of the Local Food Forum gathered to view the film Vanishing of the Bees. It’s an academy award nominated documentary about the rise of Colony Collapse disorder that reveals the impact of agribusiness on honey and bee farmers worldwide. Until I saw this film I had no idea beehives were trucked all over the country. Or that monoculture agriculture provided no food for bees, leaving 1000s of acres essentially sterile, absent of the buzz of insect life.
Of course, for our immediate comfort, that’s what many of us want. I don’t want creatures who sting and bite, eat my blood, may give me a disease, eat my crops, even my clothing! I even hate the look of certain creepy things on the wall. OUT! It’s easy to think: “Go away, die, life is better without you, you horrible thing!”
Insects are not easy to identify with. They seem very alien to us, in fact many fictional aliens are based on arthropods. They do not have the soft liquid single eyes of mammals, but weird compound orbs. No familiar warm mouth with pink tongue, but a frightening orafice with pincers and palps. Their skeletons are on the outside their bodies, and muscles inside, the inverse of our structure. They appear sneaky, subversive, ugly, evil, insidious.
But know that the bees, the butterflies, the wasps, even flies and mosquitos pollenate our food and flowers, and provide the food for birds, fish and other wildlife. Know that like us they are born, learn to live, walk, fly, feed themselves. They struggle to find food and shelter, mate and create offspring. Bees live in a highly organized social order, a matriarchy devoted to creating a sustainable community that makes more than enough food in order to insure survival of the community.
When they are successful, we have the sweetness of honey. And, oh, yes: fruit and flowers.
Please consider this when you wish the bugs away, or reach for that pesticide. There is a web of life that connects all things, and we, and the insects, are intertwined within it.