The bees are dying
A modern day mystery unfolds around us. The bees are dying; they are vanishing. Their colonies are collapsing, and nobody really knows why. But everybody knows something is wrong. After all these years, all these millennia, the bees are finding farmlands inhospitable. The ancient friendship between bee and farmer is being torn asunder. What would bee ambassadors say if they could tell us? How could they put into words what is happening to their world? Can we imagine what is happening to ours?
Here are the simple facts, the words and figures that cannot fully tell us, even remotely, of what this crisis means:
Almost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, largely by honey bees.
These foods provide 35% of our calories, most of our minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants, and the foundations of gastronomy. Yet the bees are dying – or being killed – at a disturbing pace.
The staples of corn, wheat, and rice are all pollinated by wind. However, animal pollination is essential for nuts, melons, and berries, and plays varying roles in citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, avocados, cucumbers, coconuts, tomatoes and broad beans, as well as coffee and cocoa. (See footnote 1.)
The grim tale goes on and on. Will man ever stop polluting his environment? What can anyone do?
Farmers could make a difference if they stopped waging war – as it must seem – on the bee, spraying all her flowers with poison. These are called pesticides and are meant to kill pests, but poisons really don’t know how to discriminate. The “cide” part of the name (killing) wins out over the “pest” part. The unheeded warnings of generations are proverbial. We will live to see silent springs.
Farmers are Seers
Farmers must begin the change, but being part of a debt-driven system makes it hard for them to do anything except make money. Many of them, of course, give their blood, sweat, and tears, and still have a hard time doing even that. We all appreciate them – they feed us, after all. But successful or not, most farmers today are trapped in the bigger, better, faster mode of doing business that is leading the whole world somewhere… just where is not at all clear.
From one of our farmers, whom we see as great men, is another view of this age-old and honorable profession:
“Farmers are seers. The prophets of old were called seers. They were people who could see what was ahead. The farmer has his seeds, but he is looking toward the harvest. He has to look ahead to feeding his people year round, even in winter. He even looks ahead to the challenges he will face.”
“Our Father has caused us to look ahead, even to the Sabbath years. Proverbs really help us do this. They help us see what we are doing now, and what the long-range effect of it will be. They develop consequential thinking. We must be reading the Proverbs if we are going to have wisdom.”
One of the things our Father spoke to us to look ahead to is that bees in the world are having trouble. The beekeepers are perplexed, and it is getting harder to get honey. But bees are very important to life itself, as the pollination process is what brings forth the seed for the next crop.
Modern farmers rely on mono-cropping (planting acre upon acre of the same thing, even thousands of acres) to make money. This causes a great feast for the pests, which multiply exponentially! To fight the onslaught, chemical companies have produced stronger and even systemic pesticides. They are applied to the water or even to the seed, and they become part of the plant. The poison stays in the plant, and when the bees pollinate them, these chemicals are brought home to feed the young bees.
These chemicals don’t kill the older generation (at least not right away). They call it a sub-lethal dose. It’s not enough poison to kill an adult bee, but it definitely affects the next generation. It weakens their immune system. They tend to get all kinds of illnesses. It affects their nervous system and their ability to remember things, so these young bees go out and try to pollinate, but they never find their way home. The colony collapses and the bees are nowhere to be found.
The bees are dying in the world, and many of their colonies are collapsing. It’s really happening. It’s stirring people up. The beekeepers are sad. One of the biggest beekeepers in the world lost 40,000 beehives in a matter of a few weeks.
The prophetic direction expressed at this recent agriculture meeting is that our farms will be sanctuaries. We will provide sanctuaries for the bees, and for disciples as well! Our farms will be places where there can be healthy hives, with food for the bees and their young. We will plant flowers for them, and they will partake of the fruit blossoms as well.
“Bees also show the world an example of an unselfish society. Bees live only for the good of the hive. They depend on the hive. A single honeybee cannot live more than 24 hours apart from the hive.” ~ from Jeremiah at the Morning Star Ranch in Valley Center, California.
A Harbinger of Things to Come
We are acting on our convictions. This photo shows our first, consciously planted bio-strip. It’s in Cambridge, New York, on the Common Sense Plantation. And here is what the wise woman who planted it had to say:
“I didn’t have a well-formed idea when I started the bio-strip. I knew that the hedgerows of England were ecologically intact strips of the the original plant life, with gardens carved out in the middle. The trees, plants, and shrubs provided homes for all the indigenous birds and insects that were needed to keep the garden in balance. So I just started planting ornamental flowers, medicinal trees, and medicinal herbs in the garden to offset the vegetables that, for the most part, were harvested before they bloom. This is what you see in the picture.
Recently, I made a list of plants that are important to bees in Cambridge, to see how much of what I had planted would help them. Fortunately, bees benefit from a wide range of plants, and many of those are also useful as medicine for us. I hope to continue on learning about all of this during the 2013 growing season. There is a lot to learn, especially since the climate is changing and the weather is introducing new stresses that need to be overcome by the gardeners, the insects, and the plants. I learned recently that a plant called Tulsi, from India, is very useful to us to bring homeostasis to our bodies when we get out of balance (also called “stress”). Bees love Tulsi more than any other plant in my bio-strip. ~ Ruhamah
So, step by wise step, as our disciples who farm our lands pray and share their burdens, and study, and labor hard in the fields, we will make sanctuaries for the bees — places for them to be. And they will be places for needy men and women to be, too, who want to be restored to their Creator, to one another, and to the wonderful, but fragile creation we live in.
Please come and visit our farms. You can find a complete listing at this link: http://twelvetribes.org/locations/farms
All these farms happily welcome WWOOFers — Willing Workers on Organic Farms. So many have come for productive visits. Some have never left. Our farms are like our other communities, the ones in cities. At both we say, “Come for a day or stay.”
Your friend, Kevin Carlin
P.S. The WWOOFing program, and what one Chinese WWOOFer observed, was the focus of the second newsletter last year, “Peach Blossom Spring.”
1 “Einstein was right – honey bee collapse threatens global food security” by A. Evans-Pritchard in the London Telegraph (February 6, 2011).
Originally published as Newsletter 15 on March 25, 2013.