"Food" Stamps February 12, 2008
Roger Downer's program was a hit last night, in spite of the frigid temps and blowing snow. His program was mostly of bees and the buzz... about them in the scientific community. So why should you care about bees, after all they have nasty stingers and a bad attitude, right? Wrong! That would be wasps and hornets, and they are not pollinators. The first thing we need to do is sort the bees out of this mix, realizing these beneficials rarely sting while out doing what they do best: pollinating. In fact, about the only way to get seriously stung is to threaten their nest/ hive. They will defend their home turf, but otherwise, they remain pretty docile.
We need pollinators for our food crops, and farmers know this well. Commercial bee companies ship their bees all across the county, from apples to almonds and every other fruit imaginable, these crops must have pollinators to fruit. Recent news was full of the scary Colony Collapse Disorder. Theories now suggest this tragic hit to bees was not unlike a "perfect storm" of maladies. Possibly stress, pesticides - particularly the neonicotinoids, and infective viruses like IAVP, all may play a part in this disaster.
I could go on for an hour- Roger did! :) Just know, pollinators are our friends and we need them. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign even promoted these amazing federal stamps to help promote awareness. So do your part and mail your next letter with a fruit bat, bumble bee or a hummingbird stamp. Pollinators, especially native bees are dramatically in decline. We are losing this important link in our food chain, and we don't even have good studies on current or past demographics, species and numbers.
Fascinating fliers they are, and many institutions are begging for your photos to help them index these industrious insects. Get your cameras ready, and start taking those shots of insects-in-action while you are out botanizing this year.