Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unintended consequences

Today I saw a story that once again reiterates that the things we do have unintended consequences.  The almond crop in California currently produces 80% of the world's almonds.  This would seem like a good thing and economically, it is.  However to achieve this, California has approximately 200,000 acres of nothing but almonds in perfect rows.  This makes more maximum efficiency in harvesting but this is essentially a dead ecosystem.  Nature does not grow just one plant all by itself for thousands of acres.  Almonds require pollination by honeybees to produce.  However almonds only produce flowers in early spring therefore if there is only almonds for thousands of acres, any local honeybee colony dies from starvation.  Also because there is no healthy ecosystem, thousands of tons of fertilizer and pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on the almonds to keep them alive.  So how do we pollinate?  Well, instead of allowing polyculture and a self sustaining system, they decide to ship honeybee colonies in.  Every spring 1.4 million honeybee colonies are trucked in from all over the United States and placed in this 200,000 acres.  So think about this.  You have millions of colonies being shipped stacked one on top of another over thousands of miles of interstate breathing diesel fumes spreading parasites and diseases to each other while they are in such close proximity.  They are also transported in early spring when they are at their weakest at the end of winter.  Then they are released into a field that has been heavily permeated with pesticides and herbicides.  Then they are trucked to the next crop they are to pollinate because the way we grow crops doesn't allow for natural pollination.

And we wonder why honeybees are dying?

Luckily, there are things we can do to help the bees and in essence save our food supply.

There's a local group in socal called Backwards Beekeepers and they rescue local wild honeybees and allow them to be normal bees.  I would do this myself but, I have anaphylaxis to bee stings so it's probably not a good idea for me but if you're interested, it's a good thing to do.

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