As planting season comes around once again, Marash Girl remembers with disappointment the zucchini plants that never bore fruit. Her zucchini plants produced many flowers, but not one zucchini. Nor had she seen butterflies or honey bees in her back yard. . . The only honey bee she saw last year seemed confused -- it landed on her arm as she sat in the courtyard of Panera's in Newton Centre -- sat there for a few moments, and then flew off. Marash Girl thought that perhaps the bee could sense that Marash Girl was a friend of the family's, growing up the daughter and niece of beekeepers in Newtonville many years ago. This year once again, and this time in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Marash Girl saw a bee that looked confused, again hovering around picnic tables. A young boy thought the bee was about to sting him, and did exactly what he should not have done -- he swatted the bee, the bee stung him as bees are wont to do when attacked, and died (the bee, not the boy -- bees only attack when they feel attacked, and die once they lose their stinger -- they give their lives in order to protect their hive). The day after witnessing this sad bee drama, Marash Girl heard a program on WBUR discussing the dwindling honey bee population -- farmers are concerned -- as every two acres of crop needs one hive for pollination -- but beekeepers have been losing their bees over the winter . . . and not only over the winter. What could be the reason? Perhaps pesticides -- not only pesticides sprayed on the outside of plants, but systemic pesticides such as nicotine (used as an anti-fungicide). Boxing up hives of bees and shipping them to California during almond season, and then returning them to the East coast may be the cause of trauma as well . . . But not only the bees, where have the butterflies gone?
Whatever the reason, Marash Girl is so discouraged with last year's crop (or rather, lack of crop) that she will not plant vegetables again this year.