Friday, October 19, 2018

Microstory 955: Bees

A keystone species is one that is vital to the ecosystem in a way that their absence would gravely impact other species. Beavers are one example of this. In parts where beavers have died out, soil erosion has been caused by a lack of their dams. Certain species of fish have suffered, for they evolved to utilize the slow-moving areas of rivers that these mighty mammals created for them. I even named the prison in my stories Beaver Haven for its analogy to house time travelers, some of which are known as salmon. Bees are also a keystone species, and possibly the most important. Since plants can’t move around, they can’t reproduce the same way animals do. They can’t go out, find mates, and bear offspring. If they want to spread their seeds over distances beyond their immediate area, they rely on others, or other phenomena. Some encapsulate their seeds into a cotton-like structure called a pappus, which floats on the area before landing kilometers away. Others attach themselves to the fur of a creature, which is meant to walk away, and drop it off somewhere else. Yet others choose to attract insects to their flowers, which pick up the pollen like dust, and spread it around as they fly back home to use what they managed to hold onto for their colony’s honey. You eat a lot of the fruits and vegetables that come from these plants, and if you’re more into meat, you still benefit, because the animals you eat are also eating those fruits and vegetables. There are many possible answers to the question of what’s happening to the bees—the most likely culprit being pesticides that prevent these pollinators from navigating back home—but the clear truth is that it’s our fault. So, what can we do? We need bees to spread the agriculture, but we need pesticides to protect it from, well...pests. The solution is—you guessed it—vertical farming. If you bring most of the crops inside to a controlled environment, you can produce a greater volume in a smaller space, and you won’t need pest control, since most bugs don’t know how to open doors. By removing our reliance on bees, we would allow them to restore themselves to sustainable numbers, and get back to the business of supporting the planet as a whole. Bees are so important, and so innocent. Save the bees!

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