sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013


By Hugo M. G. von Österreich und von Toskana
August 31, 2013

A honey bee (Apis mellifera) extracting nectar. Source: ..heaven awaits..

A shot was heard. It was late in the afternoon and there was a family of three enjoying the Summer evening outside in the backyard. Out of nowhere came a bullet that hit the man in the family in his right foot. 

He yelled as the lead went through the flesh leaving behind a perfect tiny hole. It was a calibre 22. 

The man quickly run into the house looking for rubbing alcohol in the family´s first aid kit. His wife was extremely worried as her husband was limping and dripping blood. 

The child had trailed them. The little boy, a creature of around 5 years of age, full of admiration and not realising of the situation, exclaimed:

-Hey, dad! How neat!!

-Son, this is reality!!! This is not the television!!! And I´m bleeding!! Cant you see this?, his father screamed at him as he held and shook with his hands the child´s face.

Such a story which really happened and was related to me by one of my students in a Biology class in a U.S. college where I used to teach in the 1990s, reminds me of the similar situation we are now facing with the disapearance of the honey bees. 

As the child in the story above, most people, if they do not say How neat!!!!, they remain untouched by the disturbing news, for they think it does not have anything to do with them. 

They are too absorbed in their lives which come close to following or becoming the virtual realities of the TV shows. People walk, eat, sleep, defecate and sometimes copulate, acting like robots, unfeeling. Most people do not really give a damn about the honey bees.

They take it for granted as it it was something that is happening in the TV set. To them, it looks like business as usual.

Some people, to get the guilt off their backs, often shrugging their shoulders, just bother to say:

Dont´we have the scientists to fix this problem?

But scientists are not gods. They are not something out of this world, full of logic and objectiveness. They do not act in isolation in outer space. They interact in a social milieu. They are the result of a social fabric, with the same ambitions, aches and pains of normal people. 

Should this not be the case, we would not have the mess we have in our hands.

Corporation-funded scientists are part of the problem. Some of these experts have invented and keep inventing thousands of chemicals upon chemicals every year, many of these substances are dangerous and most of which have never been tested. We already have enough to form mountains of hazardous substances around the Earth´s equator. 

As a result of industrialisation, intensive agriculture, commercial forestry and aquaculture, humans contaminate the environment with xenobiotics, electronic garbage, nuclear waste, urban sewage, toxic gases, etc.,etc., plus the intentional or accidental discharges, leaks or spills of industrial products, hazardous chemicals and oil. All of which have summed up to trigger the present environmental crisis. 

What is happening to the honey bees is actually a mirror to our own dumbness.

We must admit that we are all culprits. We all suffer from shortsightedness.

When new technological innovations, many of them useless and unnecessary, come out of the scientist´s laboratory, we run quickly to buy them as if our lives depended on possessing them. 

We all hop into the bandwagon. One fad gives way to another.

This is how we have accepted cellular phones that are making us sterile, packaged food that is making us sick, soft drinks that disrupt our pancreas turning us into diabetics and a endless chain of "neat" inventions that are supposed to "make our lives easier" when in fact we only enjoy piling them up in our homes. 

Sooner or later, we get tired of them and throw them away to be taken to the urban dump, adding further to the environmental problem, and those things we do keep, become our masters. We end up being enslaved by these inventions. 

We are too much in a hurry to get to the graveyard in our quest for the perfect machine, that in the long wrong it might chew us up.

Damn it we are so stupid!!!

What is really unfortunate is that this crisis, the death of the honey bees, is not a fiction tale, a thing that belongs in the TV screen or the cinema. 

It is real and it is happening right now around the world. And it concerns all of us. The health of the planet is really at stake.

Harbingers that something has gone wrong can be found everywhere.

And the most obvious sign that things are not going well is the bees that are dying right under our own noses. 

And what do we do besides recording and keeping track of how many are dying? 

Nothing. We continue with business as usual.

Now is the time to do a few simple things:
  • Keep your consumption to the basics.
  • Avoid travelling too much unless you have to or your livelihood depends on it.
  • Do not buy what you do not need.
  • Do not use any biocides or chemical fertilizers in your garden.
  • Plant flowers in your garden during Spring.
  • If you are a meat eater, do not consume animal flesh that comes from CAFOs. Or why not become a vegetarian? There is life after meat. You will notice it in your articulations as soon as you do.
  • Let your garden become a refuge for biodiversity.
  • Plant flowers in your garden. Honey bees are doing better in cities, according to some scientists. So your flowers will become food for the honey bees that visit urban areas. 
  • Plant at least a tree in your garden. 
  • If you are a farmer, make sure you leave wider undisturbed strips of land along and between tilled fields. These will serve as places of biodiversity and wild flowers will prosper providing nectar to honey bees.
  • Do not use any kind of sprays at home. 
  • Avoid plastics as much as possible.
  • Do not waste your energy looking for what your already have within you, your inner self. It will always be there waiting for you, it is just a matter of finding it. Explore your personal inner world, which is a universe in itself.
  • If you do not need a car, do not buy one. Get a bicycle instead or walk. We have neither.
  • Use public transportation as much as you can.
  • Maintain a close watch on what your politicians do.
  • Tell your politicians to make cities green, centers of biodiversity. There are many species that enjoy living close to us and we should be kind to them. They are really environmental bioindicators.
  • Get involved in any citizen´s associations that promotes ecological urbanism. The future is a city acting as a green, self sustaining unit.
  • Go green as much as possible. Talk, act and consume green.
  • Become aware of the natural environment that surrounds you.
  • Wake up from your state of dead intelligence. Try to become one with Mother Nature. Feel the ticking of Mother Earth.
  • Think before anything you do, especially shopping. We must get free from the spell of consumption.
  • Do not follow any fads.  Do not be afraid of "listening to your own drum", as Henry David Thoreau once said.
  • Connect your children to Mother Nature, not to electronic gadgets. Teach them to love Mother Nature.
  • Be yourself. Get in touch with your inner self.
  • Keep calm.

None of the above will immediately solve the crisis, but if we all did this at the same time, we would soon see some change.

We ourselves are not perfect. But these are some of the things we have done or do. 

Remember, someone has said that "happiness is not a matter of externals".

For us, looking at the grasses swaying in the wind, observing an earthworm in a heap of soil or admiring a drop of rain hanging at the tip of a leaf of a humble weed are more than enough to make us happy, elated. The emotion of connecting or feeling connected to the Mother of all of the mothers is wonderful and priceless!! 

We all need do something for the benefit of the Biosphere. it is time to set aside the talking and get busy doing something that will benefit everyone on this wonderful and beautiful planet.

If only we let Mother Nature takes its course in just a corner of a garden, it would help. We already have too many cemented spaces. 

Nature´s capacity to heal is one of the most amazing things on Earth. Mother Nature just needs time and be left alone to renew itself. 

 A window to ponder

Sadness can have different sources. One of the strongest is when a dear member of the family passes away. The death of a pet can also be painful. Each of us have had one way or another this deep emotion.

The crisis of the honey bees makes me quite sad. It moves me very deeply. I am admirer of these insects. It impresses me to see honey bees working hard, with such intensity performing their labour of pollination. They are the only ones that can do this job so perfectly, and for the benefit of the entire planet.

It is estimated that if people were paid to do the honey bee´s ecological service, pollinating by hand with a small brush each strawberry or any other fruits, it would cost over US$ 2.5 billion per year just in England. And the result would be fruits of poor quality. Honey bees do it perfectly. We need them indeed!

This year we saw few honey bees on our cherry tree during Spring. It has saddened us!! 

We should all be sad and doing our best to reverse this crisis. The honey bee´s death is also our own death!

I leave you with a couple of clips (Videos 1-2) about Honey Bees:  

                                                      Video 1. Who killed the honey bee?

                                                         Video 2. El silencio de las abejas.


Devillers J. & Pham-Delegue M.H. (Eds.) (2002). Honey Bees: Estimating the Environmental Impact of Chemicals. Taylor & Francis, London, UK. 332 p.

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