Aasof on Pollination
The entrance to a shop had a man with a stand presenting some environmental issue, to whom I curtly said that I wasn’t interested. However, having loaded the car on taking the trolly back I felt somewhat remiss in my attitude to people who tried to do a job in difficult circumstances. On my return to the shop I asked him if he was collected money. It appears that no-one collects money anymore, everyone wants you to subscribe to something (just like the ads on television).
The chap represented a local Wild Life Trust and pointed out that insects (particularly pollinators¹) were fast disappearing, for example birds collecting insect bodies on the side of motorways are quite rare now (much like household flies that collected on flypaper traps when I was a youth). He also pointed out that pollinators like bees, are transported around the USA now (2). This notion of transporting bees around raised my curiosity, so much so that I made a cursory on-line investigation into pollination. It would seem that any global decline in insect pollination² does not overcome any vested interests even in the EU³.
In 2014 I had previously remarked on rat-tailed maggots living in fetid stagnant water and which readily transmit disease to humans. I inadvertently created the ideal environment for the drone flies to lay their eggs when I attempted to make a rhubarb leaf insecticide. Having put the leaves into a container for later use, I then forgot all about them. They were only brought to my attention when I noticed a putrid smell, which turned out to be the soaked and decayed matter now in the container, that and a large number maggots swimming amongst the putrefaction.
My first instinct was revulsion and an impulse to dispose of the maggots. However, I noticed that these were not normal maggots in that they had ‘tails’. It transpires that they were the maggots of drone flies that are ‘good pollinators for the garden’. As they and should be encouraged I left the maggots to pupate but gave up any future experiments into rhubarb leaf insecticide.
My latest investigations to pollination and I now the technology involved interested me, causing me to see the film ‘Silent Running’ in a new light (pre microelectromechanical technology). It’s interesting that the film was made twenty years before the Rio Conference in 1992 mentioned in my last post on ‘Anthropocene’.
1. The Importance of Pollinators: Approximately 1,000 of the plants grown for food, beverages, fibres and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we rely. In fact, one out of every three bites of food, from vegetables to fruits to edible oils, are a direct result of pollination services.
2. Well-traveled honey bees pollinate many U.S. crops: Half of all U.S.A bee colonies are transported to California each spring to pollinate almonds, including some 18,000 from a family from Louisiana. Then they go to New York to pollinate apples, to Maine for blueberries, to Massachusetts for cranberries, and then back to the South for the winter.
3. These Photos Capture The Startling Effect Of Shrinking Bee Populations: Hanyuan county is known as the “world’s pear capital.” But pesticide use has led to a drastic reduction in the area’s bee population, threatening the fruit crop. Workers now pollinate fruit trees artificially, carefully transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers to fertilize them.
4. Can Robobees Solve the Pollination Crisis? Earlier this year, Walmart filed a patent application for drones that are designed to pollinate crops by carrying pollen from one plant to another, detecting flower locations with sensors and cameras. More recently, there has been a surge in news articles analyzing the concept of “robobees,” which is also being researched in labs around the world, from Harvard to Russia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University.
5. Scientists Worldwide Rush to Develop Robo-Bees: Most of the world’s produce which we take for granted are all thanks to insects like bees that help in the pollination of the flowers of plants. In recent years, however, large colonies of bees have been disappearing in what has been called a bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Referenced Articles & Books:
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¹Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops (url/download): The extent of our reliance on animal pollination for world crop production for human food has not previously been evaluated and the previous estimates for countries or continents have seldom used primary data.
²Global pollinator declines (url/download): Pollinators are a key component of global biodiversity, providing vital ecosystem services to crops and wild plants. There is clear evidence of recent declines in both wild and domesticated pollinators, and parallel declines in the plants that rely upon them.
³EU pollinator initiative lacks teeth to address unsustainable practices (url)! The Pollinator Initiative aims to put the decline of pollinators higher on the political agenda, and this is laudable. It has, however, no legislative power and is therefore lacking the ability to put an end to the current practices that are damaging the environment.
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