Bright and early this morning, I went to open the window of my bathroom so that my trio of cactus plants could get them some sun. I bought these last Saturday at a farmers’ market.
Then a bee buzzed into my bathroom through the half open window. First off, I thought it funny that the bee was going after my cacti, seeing as they are not flowering, then as the bee buzzed against the closed half of the window, I watched it go to and fro and started to think about some random facts that suddenly came together in my mind like a marriage of lemon tea and roasted groundnuts.
The bees, they are a-dying!
Last year I watched a documentary on telly about this 3rd generation family-owned trucking company in Australia who had the unenviable job of trucking hundreds of bee hives from their winter abode to their summer home. I don’t rightly know if Australia has the sort of white winters the rest of the winter having world has, or not, but I do remember that the bees spent winter and summer in different places.
So, the documentary is playing and I am wondering why the bees didn’t just, y’know, fly up, then the voice-over guy explained that where in generations past they’d have flown to their destination along a vegetative highway of plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and whatnot, now, they had to contend with wide expanses of storeyed buildings, residential suburbs, miles of blacktop highway chock-a-block with fuel exhaust spewing vehicles, electricity pylons… y’know, the physical infrastructure of modern day first world countries.
Now these particular bees were some special kinda bees, that only fed on the nectar from this particular flower that grew in a secluded mountaintop protected habitat or some such. As if the life of an ordinary bee isn’t precarious enough already.
The truckers’ job was to deliver the bees, period. Over hundreds of kilometres, with the last couple of kilometres requiring the use of a dedicated train – a train I tell you – up a perilous mountain-side track because of course there was no road for the trailer truck. Or any roads for that matter. Dude, it was spell binding watching this father and son trucking team working overtime to keep the bees sedated, calm and un-stressed, and the grief on their faces when they got to one of the staging areas halfway up the mountain and discovered that a previous shipment of bee hives had been knocked over – by vandals or teenagers, usually one and the same thing – so hundreds of bees were lying about dead like so much discarded confetti. Gripping stuff. There I was widening my eyes and looking at the ceiling in that way you do at a funeral service to keep the tears at bay. Over some dead bees.
And when summer was over, back up the mountain they went to retrieve the hives and bring them down to their winter home.
Here’s some sobering information. In the last 5 years, the bee population has dropped by one third. 1/3. If bees were to disappear from the face of this here earth, humans (you and me both) would have just about 4 years left to live. So, if all the bees in all the world dropped dead today, my infant son would just about make his 5th birthday before the zombie apocalypse hit town and wiped us all out. Now that’s grim.
As I stood there in my pyjama bottoms watching the bee buzz against my window I remembered another random fact, how they can become tired and lose the energy required to return to their hives; in that moment I purposed that this time, and in future, I wasn’t going to swat this bee (to an almost certain death) so I opened the second window and out it flew.
Fun fact 1.
If you find a tired looking bee in your home … whats a tired looking bee you ask? well, a bee that’s sort of lazily flying about, in a a non-frenzied non-purposeful way … if you find a tired looking bee in your home, a simple solution of sugar and water will help revive an exhausted bee.
Simply mix 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of water, and place on a spoon for the bee to reach. Hey, you could also help by sharing this post to raise awareness.
Fun fact 2.
The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is improving livelihoods in Masindi and Bushenyi districts in western Uganda, by giving former hunters an alternative method of making a living in bee keeping.
Whatever our response to nature and the world around us, we need to always remember that we are all interconnected. What you do now, to something as small as a bee, could be signing the death warrant for your grandchildren. So inform yourself, be eco-smart and make a difference.
Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall we be saved. – Dr. Jane Goodall