Love Thy Pollineighbor – October 2016
I was walking downtown one bright mid-July afternoon and came upon a bee in the middle of 3rd Street. She was on her back spinning frenetically. I reached down and as her little legs grasped my pinky, I wondered, “Was she battling the residual effects of a recent mosquito spray?”
Days earlier, Jackson County Vector Control sprayed Deltagard, a Bayer chemical with a label that reads “Extremely toxic to fresh water and estuarine fish and invertebrates” and “highly toxic to bees.” Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife discourages the use of this pesticide because of its lasting persistence in the environment.
Standing there, I marveled as this beautiful bumblebee gingerly explored my palm. How is it possible to feel love for a beeing so small? She flew off. My heart lifted. Maybe she was going to be okay after all? Then she crashed into a brick wall and dropped to the ground, writhing.
Was she in pain?
Quietly, I approached. This time unable to grasp my finger, she allowed me to gently move her onto a leaf. I placed her amongst flowers. Feeling small and powerless, I walked away. Had I been more courageous, a mercy kill would’ve been kinder.
Our intolerance for common weeds and pest insects harms more than the intended. The cumulative effect of synthetic pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) applied by homeowners, cities, counties, and agribusiness impacts our pollinators who are disappearing at alarming rates. Human health is also impacted. Imagine my surprise to learn Jacksonville Elementary School was sprayed with Buccaneer Plus, which, like Roundup, is a glyphosate herbicide. The World Health Organization considers glyphosate a probable carcinogen.
We have an opportunity to help our pollinators, to give wings to those who cannot take flight. Jacksonville could become the next Bee City USA (BCU) following on the heels of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, and Gold Hill. Pollinator Project Rogue Valley aims to create a “buzzway” of pollinator conservation connecting all the towns in Southern Oregon.
From integrated pest management (IPM) to offering educational bee or Monarch Waystation tours, becoming a BCU will further our existing environmental stewardship efforts. And it can also have positive economic consequences by bolstering our “green” reputation and promoting eco-tourism.
Could Jacksonville become a leader in pollinator conservation, potentially the most bee friendly town in Southern Oregon? Absolutely! Jacksonville is a unique place. Putting the remarkable history and architecture aside; this tightly-knit community is what makes Jacksonville special. Neighbors helping neighbors for collective betterment, and as a BCU, we can further help our winged neighbors, our pollineighbors, for their betterment too.
I am looking for fellow pollinactivists who are interested in learning more. If you have a passion for beekeeping, pollinators, native plants, IPM, or biodiversity, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, for our pollineighbors.