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Bees and Butterflies

There has been a lot of news surrounding the honey bees and butterflies in the agricultural world. Large multi-national companies are spending/investing big dollars into research to figure out why these two insects, primarily honey bees, are dying in droves.

Honey bees are best known for their honey, but their pollination services are the most sought after commodity. It only makes sense that honey bees and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) are making headlines and garnering the lion’s share of research dollars.

Honestly—no, bluntly—honey bees and butterflies are really “canaries in the coal mine.” They are bell weather indicators to the health of our agricultural systems. If the health of honey bees is an indication of the health of our food supply, we are in trouble, big trouble.

I would make the stretch to say that conventional or chemical agriculture and most non-organic world farms are detrimental to the ability of honey bees to survive. American farmers have plenty of toxic options to kill pest, weeds and anything else they don’t want competing with their crops, and, unfortunately, there are no selective insecticides. Farmers just kill the good and the bad and wreak havoc on the balance of nature. And really, there are no bad or good insects, they each provide an important ecological function, just some insects are more desirable or beneficial in our minds.

I would contend that we are not going to solve the plight of the honey bee, butterfly or the thousands of unnamed insects until we embrace the problem. The honey bee die-off is the symptom, much like heart disease is a symptom. The solution mostly lies in changing how we farm, not changing the honey bee.

Large chemical companies are lining up to “help” solve, in my opinion, the very problem they have created with the production of their chemical products. It is, at best, an expensive public relations campaign or possibly some form of mitigation. I have little faith that the research will yield actual solutions because that would require these companies to go out of business, which is not an option for them.

Just maybe, if the American public wants to save the honey bee, it might inadvertently save itself because the only thing that is going to save the honey bee is a change in how we farm. One thing is for sure, improving the health of the American people has not proven itself to be a big enough driver to elicit the change, but maybe the honey bee will have enough sting to make it happen!

The other way to save the honey bee is to continue to do what you are doing now—supporting local farms that value all life and raise food that doesn’t support the chemical companies.