Pollinators in the Environment

By Sam Golston, Master Beekeeper

Most of us are oblivious to insects and consider them a nuisance.  We try to eliminate them from our surroundings.  As a Beekeeper for over thirty years, I have observed what I consider the most important insect and that is the honeybee.  The media has educated us as to its decline and with possibilities of why it is in a downward spiral. This decline is critical because insects are the krill and plankton equivalents of our land food web. The quantity and quality of our food supply is dependent on pollination. Pollination allows for plant replication and as well adds to the ever evolving plant diversification and resilience.

Insects are phenomenal creatures.  Michael S Engel, author of the book Innumerable Insects, points out some very interesting facts. They do, at least for now, outnumber us all, their success is due to rapid species generation and that is why the pesticide industry goes deeper into a chemical warfare to keep up.  As a species, the author states that insects were the first to  transition to land, fly, sting, display camouflage, evolve into societies, develop agriculture, abstract language, and become descendants of diversification.

The honeybee has evolved in its three-four million year existence into a remarkable creature. Will it survive the pesticide industry’s attack on targeted invasive insects, which can adversely affect them as well?

The other assault is foreign trade, which has introduced other imported invasive species of insects that the honeybees in America were never historically exposed to. As a result, the varroa mites have destroyed feral and domestic colonies by feasting on the fat of the honeybees. The beekeeping industry has been fighting this destructive mite since the late nineteen eighties with limited success.

In West Virginia we are blessed with an abundance of fields and woodlands geographically removed from the pesticide assaults and forage areas lost to intensive farming practices. We do not have the problems that the midwestern states deal with. Our main problems here center around the mites and invasive beetles.

Here are some items non Beekeepers can do to help all pollinators.

  1. Create areas on your property to plant pollinator friendly flora and not mow so intensively.
  2. Avoid weed killers.
  3. Petition the Department of Highways and utility companies not to spray herbicides and mow only once per year.
  4. Become a Beekeeper!