by Dave Warner

Let’s face it – the weekend didn’t start out that great. A LOT of rain Saturday morning, then it kind of let up, but the humidity and occasional shower made for a really muggy afternoon and evening.

But on Sunday, it was beautiful. It wasn’t really that hot, the skies were clear and the humidity was on the way down.

Alan Vincent had alerted me that a group of riders with disabilities was cycling the 360 miles along the Erie Canal and they were going to stop in Little Falls Sunday afternoon.

So, I told my wife to pack it up so that we could head down there and enjoy some time along the water. The riders got delayed because of a flat tire, so we headed over to the Inn at Stone Mill for ice cream. Not on the diet, but what the heck, it’s a beautiful day, so you are supposed to be able to get away with that stuff!

After being bad, we went back to the harbor to wait on the riders.  And, they ended up being really late. All told we spent about an hour and a half sitting on the benches, enjoying the water, the people, and just the day in general.

However, as I was sitting on one of the picnic tables, taking in the aroma of all the flowers down there, I started looking at all the clover in the grass and I thought….where are all the bees?

We had spent all that time there and had not seen a single bee pollinating either the clover or the flowers. What was up with that?

Then, the riders showed up, stowed their bikes and they came over to sit and talk with us. I mentioned the lack of bees to them, and they all started looking around. We couldn’t find one the whole time we were there.

According to the NRDC, bees keep dying at record rates, putting our food supply at serious risk. They state “One out of every three mouthfuls of food in the American diet is, in some way, a product of honeybee pollination—from fruit to nuts to coffee beans.”

They go on to say that the bee’s plight is widespread: Serious declines have been reported in both managed honeybee colonies and wild populations.

Here are some of the key reasons for the decline:

  • Pesticides: These chemicals are designed, of course, to kill insects. But some systemic varieties—specifically neonicotinoids—are worse for bees than others.
  • Loss of habitat: As rural areas become urban, the patches of green space that remain are often stripped of all weeds and their flowers, which bees rely on for food.
  • Climate change: Unusually warm winters have caused plants to shift their schedules. When bees come out of hibernation, the flowers they need to feed on have already bloomed and died.
  • Disease: Pathogens carried by mites weaken bees, which makes them more susceptible to pesticide poisoning. On the flip side, if bees are already weakened by pesticides, they’re more vulnerable to disease.

I am not one of those who routinely yells about climate change. To me, the climate has been changing since the planet began, and we are pretty foolish (in my opinion) to think that we can stop it from changing.

On the other hand, pollution, pesticides, loss of habitat and all of the other things that we humans are responsible for is something that we can fix.

It’s NOT in someone else’s backyard when you go down to Rotary Park and can’t find a single bee. It’s in ours, and we better start thinking about the consequences and doing something about it now.

For me, one beautiful day in the sun has led me to a place where I will focus on this issue a bit more in my own yard.

For me, it’s about bringing back the bees…