anghara (anghara) wrote,

A memory of bees

Several sources this morning appear to have colluded to point me to this

I have a horrible sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

My grandfather kept bees all his life. Never, for as long as he was alive, did I get to their home without this large green-enamelled container waiting for me, full of fragrant honey - even today the smell of that particular kind of honey can take me straight back in time to my childhood, and the memory of my grandfather's hands.

I remember the years when the authorities would spray for mosquitoes, and the mosquitoes would be just fine thank you very much, and my grandfather would mourn the loss of hundreds, of thousands, of his bees.

I remember the hum of summer, in his garden, with the bees busily visiting every bloom, with me watching torpid with heat and lassitude while they worked.

I also remember the shock I felt, many years later when I visited Tahiti and was shown the vanilla vines draping over an orchard full of supporting trees, of being told that the pollinating insect which used to pollinate the vanilla plants was gone, extinct, dead, no more... and that the *entire orchard had to be pollinated by human hand if we wanted any vanilla at all*.

I am looking ahead into an increasingly catastrophic future, and I wonder if the honey of my childhood will be considered an unheard-of, expensive luxury in fifty years; if all the surplus human population we have isn't going to have to be put to work hand-pollinating fruits and vegetables just to keep the human race fed *at all*.

In moments like this I am glad I didn't choose to have children. This is not the world I would want to bring a child up in.

A child where (S)he would never see a bee.

A child who would never taste honey.

To be sure, we aren't there. Yet. Not quite yet. But if this article is correct and some beekeepers are reporting losses of up to 70%, how far are we? And don't think that we can simply "recreate" the bee through a genetic manipulation miracle. We probably know how - but we cannot teach those newbees (sorry, the pun just happened...) how to do the job they have always known how to to through centuries of instinct. There are things we can't teach because we don't understand them.

And the world continues to turn, into silence.

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