Monday, May 23, 2011

Queen of the Sun

Sorry for disappearing for a week! My on-again off-again (mostly-on since March!) sickness appears to be a chronic sinus infection - and last week it took a turn for the worse. Mucinex and decongestants have stopped even temporarily relieving symptoms, the nasal rinse used to work magic but no more, I've been running a fever for a few days, the pressure in my sinus is intense and my poor nose is raw. I went to the doctor and they prescribed a very strong regimen of antibiotics and referred me to an ENT for the second time in my life.

When I was younger I constantly had ear infections, and in high school I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out - this was supposed to help and prevent future infections. Perhaps it did for a year or so, but I have been plagued with frequent sinus infections for most of my life. It was terrible last year when I was working in a public school so I decided I was never going to work in a school or daycare for my own quality of life. However, since Ross is working at the Y he brings things home to me that I would rather he left at work!

But I'm definitely not the only one who is sick. The bees are sick too! 

I went to see this documentary on Colony Collapse Disorder last week at the Pickford with my friend Lauren.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon where honeybees simply never return to their hive. The film ventures around the world and visits a variety of beekeepers from "migratory industrial" to biodynamic to roof top beekeeping. The exact cause is unknown but it is attributed to a variety of causes such as the Varroa mite,  but also environmental causes such as pesticides and as well as the stresses of migratory beekeeping. 

***Here's an update from my friend Luke since his dad is a beekeeper - "they've figured out what has been causing colonies to collapse- beekeepers had been using an insecticide just strong enough to kill the mites on the bees, but it weakened the bees... and stayed in the comb so the bees sensed the mild poison and would leave to form a hive somewhere else. Now that they've realized the chemicals stay in the comb, they've been replacing everything with formic acid (naturally produced by bees and ants) and the bees are on the rebound!"

I had never heard of migratory beekeeping before - and this was perhaps the most fascinating part of the film for me. Essentially, in the spring the monocultures of the agribusiness world need bees - a whole lot of them - to pollinate their crops. Thousands and thousand of acres of monocultures are pollinated by bees that are packed up on semi trucks and driven across the entire country for two weeks only. Many colonies don't survive the trip, let alone the waiting time before they are even loaded onto the truck. And after two weeks there they must be transported elsewhere - because the monoculture is so vast that there is nothing else for the bees to survive on. 

And that is just one of the many problems with monocultures - if the bees had a variety of crops to eat then they could stay in one place and that would promote healthy bees. Also, the natural diversity of crops would limit or eliminate the use of pesticides which would create a less stressful and toxic environment which would promote healthy bee colonies. 

Life on earth is all interconnected - and yet I never realized how utterly dependent I am upon pollinators for my very existence. If it weren't for pollinators like honeybees we wouldn't have apples, or almonds, or artichokes, or flowers, or honey. Basically, agriculture wouldn't and couldn't exist. When I am sick I know to see a doctor for help; the bees, however, have no doctor. They do have the wisdom and care and love from beekeepers around the world that are practicing traditional and holistic methods as well as striving to protect them from pesticides and free from stress. 

I would highly recommend that you take a look at when and where this film is playing in your town and check it out. It is extremely humbling to realize that your life and your vitality is completely dependent upon pollinators - and perhaps the next time you stop to smell the roses, you might thank the honey bees for all the work they do. I certainly have begin appreciating them in a new and profound way. 

Have you seen the film? What did you think?

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I have not heard or seen this movie.

I hope you are feeling better. I, fortunately, have never had to deal with sinus infections, but Craig usually gets them twice a year.