A Rant About a Rant

Barbara: I got a call this morning from Mary Beth directing me to Garden Rant blog. Today’s guest rant, “Who cares about honeybees, anyway?” by Xris, the Flatbush Gardener had gotten her all worked up, and rightly so. As I read it, I could feel my blood pressure rising. This rant, by someone who is mostly on the right side of issues we care about, had such a flip, dismissive attitude towards honeybees and CCD that we could barely contain ourselves.

So what’s a blogger to do when she’s spittin’ mad? Well, blog, of course. So here’s our rant — minus the typos in our original comment on the GR site — about today’s Garden Rant rant. (That’s a lotta rantin’!)

“While we agree with the idea of supporting native pollinators, we strongly disagree with Xris’ shortsighted dismissal of the importance of the honeybee which seems to be based on the notion that it is not part of the ecosystem and therefore expendable. Really?! Though not a native species, honeybees have been a part of the ecosystem (which is the relationship of living organisms and the environment), like it or not, since the colonists arrived.

CCD is important not only because it’s killing an irreplaceable agricultural asset, but because it’s a symptom of a greater problem. Honeybees are essentially the “canary in the coal mine”. They are in trouble because they are treated and managed as livestock — fed cheap, non-nutritious HFCs, trucked across the country, worked under extremely stressful conditions, and then dosed with chemical cocktails to eliminate parasites that have taken advantage of their weakened state. This mentality has gotten us into serious trouble with more than honeybees, as a tour of any feedlot will show.

Because of the CCD “alarmists”, scientists have discovered that our unsustainable practices, such as chemical pesticide usage and mono-cropping, have led to the die-off of native species as well — a fact that might have gone unnoticed until it was too late as it did in an area of China that was so overdosed with pesticides that the local population must HAND POLLINATE crops or starve.

Our use of honeybees as pollinators is not the problem. The problem is how we treat them and the rest of the ecosystem as if it were there only for our benefit. Until we realize that we are a small part of the bigger picture and treat the earth and all its creatures as if they matter and with respect for their needs, we are in danger of killing the very things that keep us alive.”

At this point, having gotten it off our chests, we might feel better, except that we don’t. It all matters, every last little bit and time is running short, people. Every one of us needs to give a crap and DO SOMETHING! So, yes, create hedgerows and other habitats for pollinators, keep some hives, plant native species and use organics for pest control. But, please don’t downplay the issue of honeybee disapperance and Colony Collapse Disorder as old news or as not important. The stakes are too high.

Mary Beth and Barbara

6 thoughts on “A Rant About a Rant

Add yours

  1. Thank you. I agree with mostly everything from your comment, and here. I’m just feeling a little misunderstood. But that’s okay.

    The intent of my rant – and it was intended as a rant, not a detailed analysis – was to provide some additional context around CCD. As you note, CCD is important also because it’s “a symptom of a greater problem.” That was the main point of my rant. Efforts to address CCD out of context are equivalent to treating the symptom while ignoring the underlying disease.

    Short-sighted responses to CCD have harmed native species of bees. Western bumblebees are in decline in part because of efforts to apply them commercially, especially in greenhouses, instead of honeybees. Bumblebee species exported to Europe for factory reproduction have been returned to the U.S. with previously foreign parasites that have now been introduced to native populations, contributing to declines.

    I am encouraged by urban farming efforts, which are often accompanied by the introduction of beehives. In NYC, beekeeping is illegal, yet it is being done more and more. In the final paragraph of the rant, I noted that I support efforts to legalize beekeeping in NYC. Local production and distribution arising from small-scale efforts in a mosaic of habitat dictated by urban constraints can avoid the unsustainable practices which were the main focus of my article.

    1. Xris – we were initially a little taken aback by the title and first few lines of your rant (in case you hadn’t noticed), but it’s apparent that after all is said and done that we’re working towards the same goal – helping pollinators survive the careless destruction of their natural habitats. A little controversy is never a bad thing. It gets important issues out into the open and reminds us what we’re up against. Thanks for providing us with the opportunity to rant a little too. B & MB

  2. Thank you so much for your comment on Garden Rant. As I read the rant and the comments prior to yours, I was thinking that I needed to add a comment about the overall picture. Thank goodness you did so in a manner much more articulate than that which I would have done!

  3. Very interesting! I’ve been taking beekeeping classes and reading extensively. It’s interesting how hobby Beekeepers’ lot differs from the commercial guys.

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