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To ‘Bee’ or not to ‘Bee’

To ‘Bee’ or not to ‘Bee’

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Globally there are more honey bees than other types of bees and pollinating insects.  They are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees.

Without bees, the availability and diversity of fresh produce would decline substantially. Populations of bumblebees and other solitary bees have steeply declined in many places, largely because of insecticide and herbicide use, habitat loss, and global warming.

If the above is true, then why is the humble bee being pitted against the mosquito (the Aedes Aegypti to be exact) here on St. Vincent? 

   Yes, this tiny, black and white mosquito – a denizen of daylight hours – can be a killer as it carries a vicious disease – dengue fever.  It is a nasty and dangerous disease that I have had twice. It can be a killer – especially amongst those most vulnerable in our population, the elderly and our youth.  Our little island has lost children and others to this disease but has any of us ever given thought to the fact that we can prevent more of these tragedies?

The answer is NOT to fog with a seriously deadly chemical…Malathion.  I do not understand when it is known that this chemical is a killer of not only mosquitoes but anything that flies, but worse yet…of people.  In 2015, Malathion was classified by the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”  That, readers, is a very frightening sentence.  I am sure we all agree that there is already too much cancer on little St. Vincent [and the Grenadines] yet we dare to encourage it by covering everything around us with this murderous chemical via fogging with it. 

Please consider this.There are a myriad of sprays and creams that can be put on our skin to ward off all the mosquitoes and other biting insects.  Yet we sit in silence waiting to see just what this fogging is doing to our health – especially that of the very young…our most precious gifts…the children, not to mention the pecking order of insects other than the mosquito.  My property is void of most flying bugs and now I notice a diminished number of vibrant little birds who feed on them.  My property has suddenly become very quiet –  the little birds that twitter and chirp all day long are mostly gone!!

One evening I watched in horror as the “fog” began raising up so high that it was reaching the “bee caves” found in the hollows of the rock walls of the mountains that separate my home from Layou.  Twenty four hours after the fogging a rainfall will carry the Malathion back down to earth and on to our crops;  and into our rivers;  and contaminate the very soil organic farmers like me plant food crops in.  And onto the lawns and playing fields of the nation’s children. 

I repeat – wouldn’t it be a better idea to take the thousands of dollars someone or some company is getting to buy and organize this fogging saga and purchase creams and sprays to be freely given out to all the population? It can be put on our skin and our children’s skin to protect us from this specific mosquito!

I have been told “we have bees in Pembroke”.  Not on my one acre of land.  And my lovely Laburnum trees are flowering and now I have no Bumble Bees to wake me at the crack of dawn with their vigorous shaking – an unusual sound quite specific to the Bumble Bee.

I now plead with whomever to spend your dollars more wisely.  Purchase and distribute the creams and sprays that will protect the population rather than asking the island to inhale a dangerous chemical that does not even kill the mosquito eggs in a standing pool of water unless it is directly in the sight of the fogger.  Allow us to breathe clean air INSIDE our homes and please…help save whatever bees are left in the wild.  We farmers need them to help feed YOU with healthy fruits and vegetables.

An AG card carrying farmer

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