Thanks to environmentally-conscious locals and the First Alternative Cooperative, this last weekend hosted a talk with Jeff Schiminksy of the Toxic Awareness Body of Oregon, as well as a demonstration with the aid of nonprofit group Beyond Toxics (www.beyondtoxics.org) designed to simulate what our world would look like without bees.
The demonstration itself included a dramatic display of how limited our diets would become without the help of our bee buddies, with a produce department reconfigured to reflect a sad vision of a Russet potato colored future.
Aside from the visual vegetable scare tactics, Jeff Schiminsky answered questions. Jeff is the assistant winemaker at Tyee Wine Cellars and president of Toxic Awareness Body of Oregon, a nonprofit that “educates people about the dangers of toxic chemicals, including nontoxic alternatives.”
The gist of the science is that we have identified an overused class of pesticides that are particularly bee-damaging; neonicotinoids . These pesticides are in widespread use as a preventative measure and, according to the Pesticide Action Network, “the main concerns are for crops which produce flowers attractive to pollinators and in which neonicotinoid residues may be present.” So… fruits and vegetables. “Anything that relies on external pollinators,” according to the Co-op’s Yadira Ruiz.
If we want to continue to eat food that requires apian assistance for pollination, we will need to do help the bees in return. Corvallis has many local beekeepers but more bee real estate is always a good thing. Gardeners should try to minimize or eliminate their use of pesticides and set aside some space to plant wildflowers for the bees, and everyone should be buying local honey.
To learn more, check out some of the following bee-related resources:
Oregon State Beekeepers Association, http://orsba.org
Nectar Bee Supply, http://nectarbeesupply.wordpress.com
Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab, http://honeybeelab.oregonstate.edu
By Jesse Tomaino