South Carolina Farmer Sounds the Alarm on the Arrival of the Pollinator Bee Crisis
There is a time bomb ticking away that spells disaster for human beings and the quality of life on planet earth. We’ve been watching and waiting, covering this story for years, and the more time goes by the more bad news keeps rolling in. In truth, this issue is far more grave a threat than the stuff the mainstream news keeps your eyes on, even more serious than mass shootings.
Colony collapse disorder is the name given to the sudden disappearance of living or dead worker bees in colonies which had plenty of food, honey and pollen. The bees are just gone.
First coming into popular consciousness around 2006, beekeepers began reporting this strange global phenomenon and scientists began studying it. While the crisis has exacerbated considerably, much research today points to the use and overuse of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, most notably a class of pesticide called neonicotinoids.
A recent “study found that American agriculture has become 48 times more toxic to insects over the past 25 years and pinned 92 percent of the toxicity increase on neonicotinoids, which were banned by the European Union last year due to the threat they pose to bees and other pollinators.” [Source]
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We continue to see dramatic and shocking losses to not only bee colonies and wild bee populations around the world, but also grave devastation of populations of other pollinator insects, butterflies, and even birds. It has become so bad that many are calling it the ‘insect apocalypse,’ but no one seems to have yet grasped the significance of this, and where it goes from here.
A farmer in South Carolina, however, recently posted evidence that pollination problems were beginning to surface in regional crops of watermelons. In the post, David L. Green explains how pollination of crops like watermelons, squash and cucumbers really works, and what the decline in bees and other pollinators is already doing to crop yields.
The evidence of pollination problems is now showing up in our South Carolina watermelon crop. There are lots of junk melons being left in the fields.
The photo is one that was only a partial failure, that actually came to market, but then was thrown away by the produce man. Spoilage had already started on the poorly pollinated end.
Most people don’t realize that watermelon pollination is not an on/off switch but a progressive act. People think that the bee goes to the flower, and the flower is pollinated.
What actually is needed is many visits by the bees to deliver 1000 grains of pollen, and evenly space it on the three sticky lobes of the female stigma.
Each incipient seed needs a grain of pollen to fertilize the germ of the seed, and another grain to fertilize the seed coat.
And the flesh of the melon only develops in response to the fertilization of the seeds.
Note that this melon has a pointy end, because the incipient seeds were not fertilized. They are white. The other end is OK, as shown by the mature black seeds.
Not only do the fertilized seeds control the development of the flesh, but also the sweetness. If you split a melon and see that half the seeds are white, you’ll know, even before tasting it, that it will not be sweet.
The bees not only create the melon, but they also put the sweetness into it!
This is why watermelon growers put honey bee hives into the fields to pollinate the melons. Gardeners may be able to rely on native bees, but there simply aren’t enough to pollinate commercial crops.
The bee populations that are adequate for pollination in the spring, when conditions are perfect, are not adequate for the summer, when heat kills pollen and bees quit working as the thermometer rises.
It takes a lot higher population of bees to get the required number of bee visits early in the morning, on a 95-degree day that it did to work all day on an 85-degree day.
This is also the reason commercial growers quit with cucumbers and summer squash during the hot months. Of course pest and disease problems increase, but also it’s just too darn hard to get the crop well pollinated!
The last photo is of really, really bad pollination; likely only one or two bee visits.
The original Facebook post:
While this certainly is a harbinger of bad things to come, we know this can be turned around, if only we take immediate, sincere, and meaningful measures, including the banning of such agro-chemicals. Individuals, corporations and motivated organizations are already taking up the cause and doing amazing and empowering things to help bees survive. Here are a few inspiring headlines with examples of just this:
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
This article (South Carolina Farmer Sounds the Alarm on the Arrival of the Pollinator Bee Crisis) originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com.