A honey bee, shown here at the middle of the frame, pollinates a flower.
Every once in a while a grandfather has to discuss life with his grandsons. Yes, we need to discuss the birds and the bees. And I do mean the birds and the bees. Especially the bees.
There is a great concern about the loss of pollinating insects like the honey bee and its effect on agriculture. Our area of the country is not as critical as the midwest. Their loss of local plant diversity, pesticide overuse, drainage of potholes, vernal pools and wetlands, along with habitat loss are all culprits.
In the midwest the farm fields consist of hundreds and hundreds of acres of the same crop broken up only by a road pattern based on the survey system of sections. A section is a square of 640 acres, or one mile by one mile. There could be one field of 640 acres of corn, divided by a road, and then another 640 acres of corn, creating a checkerboard affect on the fairly flat prairie ground when viewed out a plane window at 20,000 feet. Because the soil is so fertile, the land is farmed from fence row to fence row and roadway to roadway.
Our part of the country uses a meets and bounds survey, where the land was broken up by measurements to the center of streams, to a large tree or whatever, to create a boundary in the rolling forested hill and mountain country. That’s why our property lines meander all over the place and are not square like out west. We also have more water and streams so they were easy to set as boundaries way back. Many town, county or state boundaries are based on streams or rivers.
Anyway, let’s get back to the birds and bees!
We need to remember our food comes from plants that flower and get pollinated by the bees, butterflies, and other insects. Ninety percent of the flowering plants and one third of the human crop foods need animal pollinators for their reproduction.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.