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Tree's a Crowd (NY Times)

Op-Ed Sampler

The Local Buzz

With attention-grabbing headlines like “Bee Afraid” and “Mystery Ailment Strikes Honeybees,” most readers know by now that commercial crops dependent upon honeybees — apples, almonds, melons and cucumbers, to name just a few — are in jeopardy. Bees seem to be walking — rather, flying — off the job. But what does this mean to those of us with backyard gardens and a few apple trees in the front yard? After all, our tomatoes, zucchini and dwarf fruit trees also need insect pollinators. Should we be worried? Well, yes and no. The encouraging news, rarely mentioned in the press, is that honeybees are about as native to your garden as Japanese koi. The European honeybee, Apis mellifera, has been in North America for less time than some of our families, having been imported to Jamestown in 1621. Ecologically speaking, there is nothing "natural" about honeybees (nonnative) pollinating almond trees (imported) in California (enough said).

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