The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
Bees and ants have a lot in common. Both are super organisms. They work together in their own colony to achieve mutually beneficial tasks.
The socialists of nature.
They communicate. When one needs help she gets others to give her a hand.
If one finds something useful she let’s the other ants/bees know about it so it can be beneficial to all.
Unfortunately they don’t just work separately.
At the allotment we have a main bee hive and have started the job of making an artificial swarm into a separate box.
This allows the colony to expand so they don’t make a real swarm and leave us. Bee keepers do this in various ways.
The main hive is doing well. We added a honey box recently to help them expand for the summer too. Bees need space.
In their hive of activity they have a significant work ethic and while there is comb to be made and larvae to care for they are frenzied in their work and busy as a bee.
But then there’s the ants.
Meanwhile, they’ve been waiting to set up their green fly cows on our vegetables. They farm greenfly to support their own colony work. They too work together to raise their larvae.
All the super organisms doing their thing.
But then the ants find the hive.
They like honey.
Now here’s the thing, what would you do?
The bees are a good super organism. Are the ants a bad one?
There are a few options.
The gardening industry these days is very straightforward.
(I wonder here if humans are good or bad super organisms? )
Poison the ants!
I hear them shout! Protect the honey!
Hmm but what would the poison do to the bees?
The industry has a new weapon. It’s called neonicotinoid.
It’s been modified to be 7000 times stronger than the 1950’s nasty DDT.
The industry have found it so effective they are really pleased. It might solve problems with world food needs.
Here’s how it works.
You coat the seed with it and it makes the entire plant toxic to insects.
It can also penetrate the soil around the seed making other things in the locality that might be growing toxic too.
This is great cos there’s no need to spray loads of Nasty chemicals into the air to be blown away or washed all over the place. So much more convenient!
Hang on! didn’t I just say the entire plant is now toxic?
But what about all the cuddly bugs, the ones we like?
The positive ones that don’t destroy crops. The cute ones that macro photographers love?
Bees, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybirds, spiders, mayflies, pond skaters, lacewings and all the other things we study with the kids at school with magnifying glasses and enthusiasm?
What about them?
Well the industry claim that this stuff isn’t harmful to those creatures. Not really sure how it discriminates.
What I do know is a single maize seed, coated in nasty neonicotinoid has enough potency to wipe out five bee hives. That’s 200,000 bees.
And what about the birds?
(They eat bugs don’t they?
They may not know the bugs are laced with poison!)
So that means songbirds, like thrushes and domestic birds like chickens!
(I direct you to an apocalyptic work Silent Spring in which Rachel Carson explains what might happen if there were no birds!)
Now equally scary for me, is that the industry, in its wisdom, can coat the seeds and bulbs we buy with this stuff without us knowing!
So before I lose you. What about those ants?
We’ve used a simple solution.
Ants don’t like it!
We’ve sprinkled it all over the varroa board under our hive and we’ve already seen a reduction in the number of ants…
…. I’ll let you know if it improves the problem.
Meanwhile before you get frustrated and consider resorting to chemicals against bugs, try something less nasty please.
Our homeschool journey one adventure at a time
Nerdy thoughts and musings
Be well, be edified and enjoy!