Pictured above: "Bees in Unfamiliarity"
Today we went to Greenacres farm. Before class, I looked it up on Google Maps and knew it was going to be great when I saw it was located on “Spooky Hollow Road.” Already excited about exploring why the street was spooky, I woke up even more ecstatic to feel that fall had decided to continue in Cincinnati with a cool 63 degree and cloudy morning.
While I didn’t see any spooky ghouls on the way over (maybe they only come out closer to Halloween?), fall stated its presence clearly this morning. The grass was wet from the record-breaking rain and the summer season faded as huge sunflowers drooped steeply to make way for budding pumpkins and the upcoming harvest. The harvest gardens were the most familiar, but was miniscule in comparison to the surrounding fields.
To us, the garden that produces our foods is what matters. We need our fruits and veggies, but Goldenrod serves no purpose to most of the population. But the pollinators and wildlife weren’t in that garden because to them the native plants are the bounty. We explored these native plants on our short hike. On almost every one of these plants was a pollinator: whether it was a beetle, bee, fly, or butterfly. They swarmed around these plants in the thousands, but without looking it was easy to miss. It makes me wonder if these insects were so active on a dreary, cool, fall morning, how active they could have been on a sunny summer day.
We learned about each of the pollinators we found, the wildflowers, the prairie ecosystem, basic beekeeping, the science of bee communication, the basic components of a commercial beehive, and some overall values of the Greenacres foundation. After the discussions in our class, it was wonderful and fascinating to see how a local farm is supporting positive initiative concerning the "wicked problem" of bee decline and of course the infamous bees themselves in all their glory.
Continuing with themes presented in class, this experience raised more questions:
1. Could aspects of bee decline be alleviated if large corporations treated their bees like Greenacres farm values theirs?
2. How can education change public opinion?
3. How can we incorporate aspects of sustainable farming into the commercial bee industry?
While these are big ticket questions that probably have no definitive answer, I hope that we as a society begin to think about these questions and strive to learning more about Earth's living creatures.