By now everyone has probably heard something about the honey bees dying off around the world. I am not a scientist and I don’t pretend to understand the entire cause but when I read that they are important to our ecosystem and people keep killing them I think what can I do to help?
This isn’t a tutorial on what you can do to help. I am far from an expert. This is more a personal plea if you will, a call to action, buried beneath a few personal anecdotes.
I remember when I was a young kid, maybe 5 or 6, I was running around barefoot in the back yard and stepped on a dandelion. In the process I was stung by a bee for the very first time. It was one of those instant pains I still remember vividly to this day. But you wanna know something, I wasn’t mad at the bee.
I went inside crying and hopping on one foot. My mom put me on the couch face first, took tweezers to the bottom of my barefoot and proceeded to inflict additional pain as she removed the poison-drenched stinger the critter left inside me.
My parents showed me the stinger when it was all over. I am certain they meant well, I suppose as they tried to cheer me up saying the bee was probably dead. Dad explained how when a bee stings a person it kills the bee. I started crying all over again. Even if I hadn’t accidentally killed the bee just by, ya know, stepping on it, somehow knowing it died defending the flower it was protecting made my little heart break. I cried at the idea I killed the bee. Now I had stepped on countless ants in my life but I was still at an age where I thought killing a bug, intentionally, was wrong.
At the time I felt bad because I knew the bee was just doing its job. Not long after this incident I started watching a cartoon on Nickelodeon called Maya the bee. It was funny because my sister used to make fun of me saying I had a crush on Maya and the like. I used to get so angry. I mean after all it was a cartoon bee.
The truth is, she was wrong I didn’t have a crush on the bee but I did feel a kinship to bugs. Like a lot of kids from the country I played with bugs. In fact in 3rd grade I kept a pet spider. It wasn’t until 5th grade when a different spider bit me causing a serious bit that required more attention that I began to develop a fear of spiders. My appreciation for the insect world began to dwindle sometime around 9th grade. I still liked catching grasshoppers and keeping them as pets despite my parents being firmly against such endeavors.
Even though I have always gone back and forth on whether or not it is okay to kill legit pests and dangerous critters, I have always felt it was wrong to murder the innocent bugs who were doing no harm. I know murder might be a strong word for some, I don’t know, but I still maintained my belief for the most part.
A few years ago I was getting into my car on a hot summer day in northern Idaho. A bee had gotten into my car and I sat on it. It found its way inside my shirt and of course began to sting me. It was this time I realized, after several years of getting needles stuck in my arm no doubt, I discovered the be sting didn’t even hurt really. It was more like a pinch. Similar to getting blood drawn. So I began shifting away from killing all bees I saw– something I only began doing from my teen years on– to wanting to protect the bees I encountered.
Then I watched a Doctor Who episode where he talked about the dying bees. Naturally I did a quick google search, followed by endless hours of watching bee videos on Youtube the following days and I came to realize I had to protect the buggers at all costs.
My most recent attempt at doing something “for the bees” was simply buying a very expensive bottle of honey from a local bee farmer just to support their cause. It was a small gesture but it reminded me why my grandparents were so big on the farmers market and supporting local farmers. So combined with my growing disdain for our wealth-obsessed capitalist society and the need to preserve the bees for our own survival, I have begun looking for new was to do my part in helping save the planet by fighting to save the bees in any way I can. It’s a small gesture but one I will work towards growing into bigger actions as I go. I might not be a nature witch anymore but I still have a passion for nature and that includes a heart for the yellow flies that keep my beloved dandelions pollinated.