Freshlivng is the name of a free magazine offered to loyal shoppers at what is probably the largest South African supermarket, Pic n Pay. Whilst there are a couple of general interest articles in this monthly publication it is mainly devoted to recipes and ideas around food. Whilst I have been doing my own cooking for the past 60 years, I am constantly amazed at how many tips I can pick up from this worthwhile publication. However it was an article of a very different kind that first drew my attention.
Starting to read the latest edition from the back page, (yes, I know that is not the usual procedure!) and moving towards the front of the publication, my eyes fell on an article entitled “What’s the Buzz?” Those of you who are following me closely will recall that last week I reported on my visit to The Cradle of Mankind, to a conference where I was forcefully reminded of the importance of the present population of planet earth conserving our natural resources, and my conscience telling me I need to do my bit! This current mindset drew my attention to a contemporary challenge for mankind.
Diminution of Bee Colonies
Whilst I had read intermittently over the past 10 years about the dangers of diminishing bee colonies, and the role that these critical insects play in ensuring the sustainability of our food resources, I had never given attention to the details of this challenge.
A Short Bee Quiz
Have you ever wondered how many flowers a bee visits in one flight?
Did you ever think about how many species of bee exists?
Has it ever crossed you mind to wonder how many bees there are in any one colony.
Or, did it ever cross your mind to think about how much honey a bee produces in its lifetime?
(Here are the answers: 1. 50 – 100; 2. 200 000; 3. 50 000; 4. 1 ½ teaspoons)
Declining Bee Populations
Bees are critical pollinators because they are responsible for pollinating about 70% of the crops. These crops are responsible for feeding 90% of the world’s population. It may be difficult to believe that crops pollinated by bees produce $30 billion worth of consumables per year. And that, they say, is only the start because the many animals who eat those plants also depend on the ability of the bees to pollinate them.
Whilst scientist are not able to pin point the exact reason for the diminution of the world’s bee populations which in turn leads to a threat to our food chain, it is pretty certain that the use of artificial chemicals which enhance production have been detrimental to our bee hive populations.
Other products dependent on Bees
Apart from the role that bees play in pollinating our food crops the production of honey is a gift to mankind because of its unique ability to flavour whilst it sweetens. Its use as a soother of sore throats is unparalleled. It is also an environmentally friendly alternative to paraffin-based pollutant products such as cosmetics, polish, waterproofing, sandwich wrap and carton-free candles.
Let’s go organic
A convincing research study which took place in Sweden recently has been quoted by Greenpeace. It was found that organically grown strawberries were demonstrated to not only achieve higher pollination success, but additionally the quality and quantity of the yield was superior.
“So what has all this got to do with Conscious Living in our Senior Years?” I can hear you saying to yourselves. Apart from reminding ourselves of the delicate balance of nature and enhancing our awareness of this potential danger to the sustenance of mankind; it helps to create an awareness of the need to educate farmers on the value of switching to inorganic techniques. We need to invest in more research which demonstrates the advantages of finding alternatives to the use of pesticides in the production of fruit and vegetables. Insect poisoning chemicals have unequivocally been shown to endanger bee populations, particularly in North America and Europe, where these poisons have been so widely used during the past 100 years.