Word is spreading about the “insect apocalypse”. One recent review of global studies indicate that over 40% of known species are in drastic decline. This represents the loss of creatures that are not only beautiful and complex in their own right, but who also play hugely important roles in ecological food chains and as pollinators.
Insects are a crucial part of Earth’s biodiversity - the web of life that has evolved over billions of years, and upon which all of our lives depend.
"If we were coal miners, we would be up to our knees in dead canaries." - Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
Why write about this here? Well, I live in Uki (northern NSW, Australia), and a couple of weeks ago my bees died. Clues indicate that it happened due to poisoning, most likely as a result of the use of certain pesticides on a garden or farm nearby. (Honeybees forage over an area a few kilometres across.) It was terrible to see them dead and dying all around the hive… And the sight made me wonder how many other species in our region are suffering as a result of poison use.
I was confronted with this devastating sight of dead and dying bees in front of my hive.
In recent years the EU, USA and Canada have banned or limited a class of insecticides known as ‘neonicotinoids’, based on scientific concern around their effect on bees and other pollinators. However, they are still the most widely used pesticides in Australia.
If you’ve got unwanted critters in your garden or farm, there are several ways to deal with them other than using harmful pesticides. Alternatives include strengthening the health of your soil, and/or using organic pest treatments. However, if you are going to use pesticides, please bear the following in mind:
For some people, the dandelion is a weed, but for bees and other pollinators, it holds a bounty!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Niall Fahy is our Strategy Manager and has been a beekeeper for two years.