When I see photos of embattled cities waist deep in concrete and rebar, or images of urban streets paved with asphalt and lined with brick, I wonder about the bees. Where did they go? How did they die? Did anyone care? I think about it, but it seems removed. It happened in some other place.
But on Christmas Eve I was admiring holiday decorations with my husband when we came upon a recent housing development, one I had never seen. Paved driveway and concrete sidewalk covered every square inch of soil. Cars and pickups wedged between dented garbage pails, rusted bicycles, and banks of empty mail boxes. No trees grew. No plantsnot even weedspoked through the “improvements.” Without leaves to rustle, the wind was left to stir a candy wrapper, an empty bread bag. It smelled not of fir, but vaguely of oil.
Yes, I wondered about the bees, but I also thought about the children. How can we expect children who grow up without green in their lives to value nature, to nurture creepy crawlies, to protect insects?
Most of us “bee people” are aware of the problems: rampant use of pesticides that kill both bees and the plants they require, monoculture cropsincluding lawnsthat provide limited nutrients and little protection, and an agricultural system that stresses our bees and spreads pathogens, parasites, and pests. Most of us know that the system must change if we are to save the pollinators, the bounty of the land, and the diversity of our food supply.
But we are the minority. Many of tomorrow’s voters, the people who will have the power to say yeah or nay to change, are living in a world without bugs. They are living in landscapes of stucco, brick, mortar, OSB, and sheetrock. By no fault of their own, they are living in places with no sidewalks, no playgrounds, nowhere to feel the icy chill of winter rain or the warm thrill of a spring breeze. These people, an ever-increasing majority, are the folks who will ultimately determine the fate of the bees and, by extension, the fate of the natural world.
When I sit at my computer, I often ask myself, “What can one person do?” What can I do to make a difference? I am not wealthy; I am not a celebrity; I am not powerful. I do not have friends in high places or supernatural abilities. How can I convince people who never think about bugs that we must care about our pollinators, and we must care fervently?
In the end, I do what I do best. I learn. I write. I photograph. I answer. I speak. I share what I know with anyone who will listen, and that is all I can do. I wish it were more, but at least it is something.
As my fourth year of bee blogging comes to a close, I look forward to the next with renewed hope. Maybe I will convince one more person to care about bees. Maybe I will help someone become a better beekeeper. Maybe I will train the person who finds an answer to varroa mites. Who knows? It’s those thoughts that keep me going.
Without getting too mushy here, I want to thank all of you for dropping by, reading, and commenting. Thank you for over one million page views this year alone, and thank you for sticking by me. To all of you, I wish the very best the new year has to offer. I wish you happiness. And most of all, I wish you peace.