When we were kids in Omaha, my twin brother and I would play the bullying overlords among the patches of clover that carpeted the front yard - there was no grass, really - to capture honey bees in our mom's mason jars. We never had to look far let alone wait even a couple of milliseconds to find our prey: There were swarms of bees to choose from. We'd endure the occasional sting as an unfortunate bee got in its final retribution before meeting a cruel fate. Invariably we'd get bored and would rummage through the clover to look for the lucky four leaf variety. (To our credit, we'd usually free most ensnared bees, but mostly because our mother demanded the return of her canning jars. If we didn't, her sting was much worse than any bee might inflict.)
There's a tiny area of clover alongside Sharon View Road that I traipse by daily. I often look at the small remnant of clover to look for bees and, if the truth be told, I still peer downward for a four leaf clover. You notice clover because you don't see much of it anymore in our homogenized - and maniacal - world of manicured lawns which are slathered regularly with herbicides and pesticides. There is an occasional urge to stop for a few moments to perform a momentary search for the lucky leafs, but the drivers in cars waiting at the stop light at the corner of Colony Road would wonder 'what's wrong with that guy?' So out of sheer embarrassment, I keep on moving.
So it was with some delight this morning that I read an Associated Press article (Google reporter Seth Borenstein and/or "by feeding them better") about a plan to bring back - or feed, literally, the bees and their cohorts in pollination, the monarch butterfly. Both are nature's pollinators supreme.
Having lived in the Midwest most of my life, I've seen firsthand how man has done a capital job of attempting to kill off these winged species through systematic starvation. We eliminate the nectar-rich clover and other blooming weeds to fuel our appetite for the ultimate lawn. Farmers extinguish the milkweed in their drive for more and more corn. It's called fencerow-to-fencerow planting. The clover and milkweed be damned.
Pile on top of that the pesticides that don't discriminate between bug friend and bug foe and you have a recipe for fewer fruits and fewer vegetables that are largely dependent on winged hosts for procreation. The AP report sheds much-needed light on a problem where, in the act of starving some creatures, we in essence threaten to starve ourselves.
Today's two bins of recycled materials don't impact the bees and butterflies - but one would suppose it's all part of the larger environmental picture, don't you think?
Borenstein's story should also open some hence closed Republican anti-environmental eyes:
bees “provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy.” In lieu of nature taking its course, perhaps the GOP could encourage the private sector to come up with some alternative pollination industry that could be subsidized with taxpayer dollars. To borrow from the experience of my brother and me in the 1950s, we’ve been stung by such sketchy results before.
There’s not much my daily forays along the streets do to help the bees and butterflies. Other than sympathize and hope that man comes to his/her collective senses, I can only hope the few square yards of clover along Sharon View Road are allowed to stay. After today’s newspaper story, I’ll keep a more vigilant eye open for these little flying friends.