Wise Words on Bee Decline

I hope a lot of people pay attention to the opinion piece by Mark Winston in today’s New York Times.

Wild Bergamot
Bumblebee on Wild Bergamot

Winston, a biologist at Simon Fraser University, argues that we should be looking at the destructive synergy created by all the factors contributing to bee decline – pesticides, intensive agriculture, disease, etc.

He warns that what’s true for bees may also become true for people – that we could be at risk not from a single environmental factor, but from all of them interacting cumulatively. We need to evaluate the impact of pesticides and other chemicals in combination, which is disturbing because most chemicals introduced into the environment are not tested at all.

There is some hopeful information in this piece: Winston’s research indicates that leaving some land fallow helps the wild bee population which in turn leads to greater yield and profit than would be achieved by planting every inch.

Go read it yourself: Bees and Colony Collapse. Update: I’m not sure what the problem is with the link, but if you scroll down on the page you will see a second link to the article itself under “Our Bees, Ourselves”.


23 Comments on “Wise Words on Bee Decline

  1. I watched a similar documentary in Australia years back, it was really scary when they pointed out all the things people are exposed too and when forcefields etc were added in it became quite chilling. Food for thought.xxx

  2. So glad you posted this. I have today’s paper and will read on the way home. But this thought has crossed my mind a lot lately. If we are so busy poisoning other life forms how can we possibly not be poisoning ourselves? We can only evolve so fast to respond to environmental pressures that we don’t create (if there is such a thing left).

  3. i did indeed read that this morning. But, of course we would, because we already know the dangers of pesticide use. I learned about it from Rachel Carson’s book, ‘Silent Spring’ published in the early 1960’s. 50 years ago! And we’re still not taking it seriously–I don’t understand why.

  4. A wise and worrisome post Jason. I tried the NY Times link though and they say it’s missing, at least from here. But you expressed the issue very well — I may access the piece from the newspaper’s site.

    • If you scroll down a little there is a link to the article under “Our Bees, Ourselves”. Don’t know why I can’t get a direct link to the article itself.

      • Can’t get used to these new-fangled digital gizmos. Whatever happened to chalkboards? But of course you are right, the link is right there, and I did indeed read this amazing article. The best hope is in the increased farm production that results when some land is kept for the bees– just remarkable to cultivate less ground and make more profit, and we all know the power of profit… I feel a lot better now about the blackberry vines I let ramble, knowing how the honeybees love the flowers. Good work here Jason.

  5. Scary stuff. I wonder if people realize what will happen if / when there are no more bees. We’ll all be in the fields with little paint brushes doing their job. If we want to eat, that is.

  6. Whenever I see a bee these days, I feel like saying a quick ‘hooray!’ so many of our garden herbs and flowers attract them, and I’m glad. I hope they continue to multiply.

  7. I think we are at the point where the damage is done. No turning back either. I did read this article and have to say at the rate insects, birds and animals are in decline, it only makes sense it will be us in time.

  8. It’s hard for me to judge because I have so few summer flowers in my shady garden, but seems butterfly numbers are way down this year too.

  9. Nothing bothers me more than this as I have 3 little beans to raise and the future of our environment is so uncertain. I will be off to read this friend…thank you for passing this on and informing others. Nicole

  10. You completely right Jason. The health of wild and domestic bees depends of many things, I noticed there are only a few bees in my garden.

  11. It seems so obvious that indiscriminate use of herbicides and pesticides will harm the environment and the food chain and us of course. I am glad that people are at last becoming aware about what is happening to our bees. Gardeners here are still using neonicotinoids to kill their bugs. They seem to think that having unchewed lilies is more important than having bees. I don’ t know if it is ignorance or stupidity that blinkers people to what is happening. The more people like you post about it on their blogs the better. Great post Jason.

  12. Yes, I’m with Chloris a great post Jason. The sooner gardeners and consumers of fruit and vegetable and that should be everyone start to have a voice in the US instead of large companies e.g. Monsanto with their huge lobbying power the better it will be for everyone.

  13. I’ve been beating the anti-pesticide drum for a while and am so glad to finally see mainstream media joining the circle. I’ve noticed quite a bit more info about the importance of bees in the press here, too. It’s not too late. I haven’t seen many butterflies this year but saw loads of swallowtails last year. My garden is full of bees but since there are hives nearby, it’s not an accurate reflection of what’s happening nationwide. Thanks for posting this.

  14. Our previous garden was buzzing with bees and insects and in this new garden, we rarely see more than one or two bees at a time. I hope this will change as the wide expanse of grass is replaced with abundantly planted borders but sometimes, it feels like a race against time and I can’t sow/grow/plant flowers quickly enough.

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