Agriculture

Colonialism and Bees

So, two honey bees and a host of wild bees, of many species. That sounds manageable.

But, what’s this? A host of honeybees and a few wild ones? Can that be right?

I mean, if the honeybees get stressed, there are beekeepers to feed them.

But if the honeybees get all the pollen and nectar, the wild bees, well, die.

They will mingle, but as you can see below, they tend to stay separate, even on the same willow.

Listen to me. “The same willow.” We’re talking about one willow, a domesticated willow. All the other willows have been ripped out to build subdivisions and light industrial mess yards. Well, and a concrete plant, and an airport, and a sports field.

This is what it is like for indigenous people on this grassland. A few “mason bee houses” won’t fix this. When this strategy was applied to the grasslands themselves in the 1870s, the indigenous people (and small ranchers) were squeezed off the grass within a couple years. Shared rights mean nothing if someone else’s cows eat the grass first. “Wildflower honey” means nothing if it kills the wild bees off.

The timing is very precise. Here’s a willow by Okanagan Lake, a few kilometres away and a few days from flowering. No bees yet.

There’s not a lot of leeway here for messing around. Colonialism is no distant thing. It is our kids, the generation of today, that has to get this right. We should lend a hand.

The good thing is that we easily can.

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