Someone in a web forum I frequent suggested that I watch this documentary. They thought I would enjoy it and they were quite right. ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ is a documentary about an apiary science mystery called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), where bees mysteriously abandon their hive and fly away. Even the predators that usually raid hives for honey stay away. When I first heard about this phenomenon, I considered it another urban legend or a tale told by those obsessed with 2012 and the apparent spiritual effects of this cycle on our planet.
I now realize how wrong I was. Unfortunately, this CCD phenomenon is both dire and very real as bees are disappearing around the planet, and there is no consensus as to why. The film website is likened to half a million adults skipping town and leaving their kids behind. Why is this important? To those like me, who may have missed that Science class, the University of Illinois estimates that about 30% of the food consumed is produced from bee-pollinated plant-life in North America. Add to these crops like clover and alfalfa that feed cattle, and you get a sense of how dependent modern agriculture is on these tiny insects. Should this problem continue unchecked, we will have serious issues to contend with feeding ourselves.
My first glimpse into beekeeping came when I saw Kwynn Johnson’s 2007 film on beekeeping screened at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. Kwynn’s film and this newer documentary remind me of how disconnected some of us are from nature. Average consumers like me do not spend much time thinking about where the food on our supermarket shelves originates. I used to see bees as just annoying, stinging insects that make honey rather than an important element behind more than US$18 billion in agricultural output in the United States alone.
In the year-long investigation documented in Vanishing of the Bees, they showed how thousands of beekeepers have admitted to the same problem, with some reporting losses of more than 90% of their colony with no dead bees found. They just disappeared. While confessing that there is no consensus on the cause, the film strongly suggests that insecticide use and environmental stresses are to blame. As a Californian friend of mine noted in an online forum, there is a strong case for CCD being factually far more important, shocking, and calamitous than global warming, earthquakes, or water shortages.
In my inbox, I stumbled across a memorable April 2010 email from a popular Trinidad Google Group (which some call blogs) where the writer, Rhona Baptiste, mentioned that – “In driving through the countryside, of interest are the housing developments that show off a nouveau-richness in the newness of structures and newly-painted facades. There must be an undoubted pride in the increased number of new homeowners, and the cheek-by-jowl business places speak of active trading, and all that is good. Their madness is not only in the name of development, but there are the devastating consequences of unplanned exploitation of the land and its waters. It is amazing how we think that land, forests, and sea are limitless.”
However, what makes this film most interesting for me is the message of hope as this crisis provides an opportunity for growth and change. As the bees die, some people promote more sustainable approaches to living as biodynamic and organic farming are on the rise. A host of alternative beekeeping methods are coming to fruition. As my Californian friend explained – it is encouraging to see many people worldwide, from scientists to young children (who are creating rooftop bee farms,) actually doing something to alleviate the problem. Even a few politicians were extremely informed but aware of the immensity of the problem, its several causes and are actively working to promote the solutions. So as I look around me at the many challenges facing our planet, I feel encouraged by the increasing awareness and commitment by the many who are working to make that positive difference.
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There is a new Blackberry group that I joined called Feel Good Fix. Yesterday somebody posted a picture with a quote attributed to Buddha that says – “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.” So let us continue to be positive.
My name is Derren Joseph, and I love my country, and I love my region. Despite our current challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope that we will all enjoy a brighter tomorrow.
Read more on derrenjoseph.blogspot.com.
Note: The blog that used to be here is now at https://www.mooresrowland.tax/.