Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Allies

When I was a girl, I was afraid of honeybees.  Heck, I was afraid of anything with a stinger.  Especially those huge hornets that stand guard over my carport or my mom's barn, protecting their nest.  Those things will chase you in a heartbeat and they're so loud.  I'm always trying to act real brave, like the adult I am, but when one comes after me I run like an idiot.  Then look around hoping someone didn't see me do it but knowing someone is rolling with laughter watching me run around like a crazy person from a bee (that's alright, I feel like an idiot most of the time anyway, and if I were watching myself I'd be rolling so...who am I to begrudge someone a laugh?). 

Really though, honeybees are an insect we take for granted.  They're just kind of there, yet another bug you have to deal with.  It wasn't until I started dating The Husband that I realized they are actually essential to a plant, instead of an annoyance or a decorative insect for little girls clothes.  We need these little yellow and black bugs to fly around and pollinate our plants so the vegetables come out right.  Even the shape of the fruit can be determined by pollination.  You know those strawberries that come out looking like two berries grew together, or that have two points instead of one perfect point.  That is a result of how the plant was pollinated.  I think it's amazing that something that seems so insignificant can have that much significance.

So, every year we rent honeybees to put on the farm to pollinate the strawberries.  Our bee man comes and drops some hives off in a place where they'll get plenty of shade and water (I know this sounds stupid, but I never thought of a bee drinking water.  You can actually see them go to the river and hover just above the surface drinking water.  It's so weird) and they fly around the field from blossom to blossom getting that yellow pollen all over them and depositing it around to the different plants.  They are our allies in the fight. 

I watched a TV show on PBS about this (yes, remember, I'm a dork.  I watch PBS).  There are farmers in China who have to pollinate their pear trees by hand with the equivalent of feather dusters because all of the bees have been killed off by pollution.  The other farmer The Husband works for raises over a hundred acres of watermelons.  Can you imagine having to go around to each plant and dust the flowers with a feather duster full of pollen?  I have real bad allergies and I could sneeze right now just thinking about having to do it.  Scientists aren't sure why the bees are disappearing, but they are, and it could have real consequences for your food in the future.

I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping bees.  I think it would be good for the farm, it would be neat to show it to the kids who come out and visit, and it reminds me of my granddaddy.  Honestly though, I’m too chicken right now to do it.  It hurts to be stung, and I’ve never been a masochist.  I think this Berry Girl will just stick to running missions for parts and combating the mortal enemies.  We can let some other super hero who’s just a bit braver handle the six legged ally.

Allied Territory

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