August 19, 2008

Can you spot what's wrong with this quote?

"Over half of the world's native plants require animal pollinators, and most of those are bees," she says. "Native pollinators are serving as a backup plan for the honeybee."

Now, I take issue with the article itself to a certain extent; the title alone is sensationalist (Saving Our Bees: Implications of Habitat Loss) considering the bee populations that are undergoing significant declines in recent years are generally "domesticated" honeybees.

What have they found so far to correlate to these declines?

During the course of the summer months, they found that the further a colony was from natural areas, the fewer worker bees it sustained.

Ummmmmmm...no shit? Nature is better at providing for animals than man? Interesting.

Their point is that "domesticated" honeybee populations that are isolated from wild(er) environs in favor of seasoned crops often fare poorly due to growing season issues and potentially lack of diversity. I get it...but what does this have to do with our native bees...unless we end up farming the entire land surface?

Back to the original quote.

To start with...what exactly qualifies a plant as one "of the world's native..."? The fact that it exists? To my knowledge, we do not have any earth non-native plants here...could be wrong though.

OK, so that's a little comical and irrelevant. The real issue is that these researchers (or, at least the media portrayals of them) are still looking at this from the wrong angle. Yes, some bee populations are crashing. Yes, it sucks. But the fact is, for the most part, they are non-native livestock. The sad thing is, the natives are being addressed only as "a backup plan," or "insurance." Um, excuse me, miss, you do realize that those "native plants" are best served by the animals they evolved with, correct? Shouldn't the beekeeper's crops be considered the backup in this regard?

Hey, it's nothing new, imported and potentially destructive species favored over natives. "Mustangs," livestock, illegal/invasive fish stockings, dam issues, birds, more incidents than you can count. It's just what we do. We fuck things up.

The point? I don't know. Maybe it's if somebody doesn't start thinking about these things from the native, natural side first, we're going to end up working our magic on the entire, flawless, natural world that surrounds us until it is completely sterile.

(both articles via Ted Williams)

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