Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flies in the flowers

By now everyone's read about the disappearance of the honeybees: no one know where they've gone, or why, but scientists blame the usual modern suspects—cell-phone towers, high-voltage transmission lines, stuff like that—for disorienting them. So the last place you'd expect to find refugee bees (refubees?) is the city. But we have a bumper crop of bees on our deck this summer. From early in the morning till deep into the evening, they're glued by the dozens to the sweet-pepper bushes and the Buddleia. (Iggy, the big bully, is used to preying on the stingless wood borers, and when he catches a honeybee, he looks confused and wounded—stung, in a word. These guys may be picturesque and fuzzy in their yellow-and-black jackets, but they fight back.) 

Of course, a few dozen bees on an isolated deck in New York aren't going to stave off the looming nationwide pollination crisis. But here's the interesting thing: in among the honeybees are a lot of flies. In fact, we often have flies in the flowers during the summer. So that's gotten me to thinking. Maybe it's not as appetizing to have flies pollinating our fruits and vegetables, but does it really make a difference what creature transports the pollen? Do we even need bees? Maybe we should just face facts and pile up our fields with shit and stinky garbage. Could pollution be the solution?

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