Bees as Essential Workers

Dear bee friends, SB103 on restricting the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids died on the New Mexico Senate floor last week. We are extremely grateful for all of you who made calls, wrote letters and otherwise hounded your senators to make it this far. There were senator absences at the final vote and the odd bedfellows who voted for this in committee, yet ended up killing the bill on the floor.

Everyone working on this legislation learned alot and will continue to find ways to restrict neonics and all toxic chemicals in New Mexico agriculture and our backyards. We are deeply grateful to our champion, Senator Mimi Stewart, for her broad vision of a sustainable future and the struggle to keep our air, water and soil healthy—and thus our pollinators and food systems.

In working on this bill during a COVID time, I have become much more aware of the word “frontline” or essential workers. Wild and managed bees, as the workhorses of the pollinator world, are exactly that. It was a lightbulb going off in my head when I put two and two together, realizing finally, that if frontline, bee-essential workers aren’t protected, the food web of life will fail. We will all be malnourished, sick or worse…

Our food system will be dismembered bit by bit if we are not vigilant about protecting bees.

As Didi Pershouse writes in “Other Species are Essential Workers: Whose Economies Enfold our Own”

The terms “essential worker” and “frontline worker” have taken on tremendous new meaning since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This article proposes that other species are essential workers whose labor is absolutely necessary for the future of critical infrastructure — both human and planetary. Their work underpins all food systems, regional and global water security, transportation, housing, health, and the climate and metabolism of our planet.

Many species are also frontline workers: facing huge risks while going about their daily labors. They are harmed and killed, intentionally and unintentionally, with antibiotics, pesticides, tillage, harvesting machinery, logging, construction, and more, without thought for how their work — and the systems that depend on their work — will proceed without them.

All species are continual designers, capable of new strategies — often in rapid response to a challenge. Like the humans who design, build, and repair our roads, bridges, and electrical grids, the work of other species involves coordinated efforts and constant intelligent decision making. They are also investors in local and global economies — and they will require a return on investment (ROI) in order to stay in the game, payable in a currency that they can use.

The work and economies of other species “enfolds” our own — it is not separate, nor is it merely a part of it. To enfold means “to surround or envelop” or “to hold someone lovingly” and it implies nestedness.

The word economics originally carried much of the same sense of care and nestedness: oikos (home) and nomi (care) = “the care of home.” Aristotle defined it as “the pragmatic science of living virtuously as a member of the polis (or community) through wise household management.”

Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function.

I love this idea of all species being part of what we think of as a solely human economy. Pershouse’s dissection of a true economy as that of oikos (Greek for household/home) combined with nomi or care, blends the spiritual and the practical in a beautiful way—an economy as caring for our home.

Pershouse goes on to entail how non-human species are engineers, architects, medicine and transport systems, providing natural sewer systems, and biological webs that vacuum, respirate, metabolize, pollinate, cool, heat, recycle, birth and evolve a planet that gives us food every single day.

In other words, every species on earth gives human life the local and sustainable food economy we depend upon. It gives us a planet that allows us to live, breathe and continue our daily lives.

How would our economic system be forced to change if we truly believed this and acted in ways that cared and protected all non-human species as critical infrastructure for our economy to work?

Gratitude is the only proper response.

And gratitude requires reciprocity and caring for that which is so graciously given to us.

Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.”
– Alfred Painter

2 thoughts on “Bees as Essential Workers

  1. I’m sorry to hear the bill languished ( I refuse to say died). Our End of Life Option bill took 6 years and 3 legislative sessions to be this close to finishing. We’re not there yet but still in the running. Sometimes it takes the legislators time to come round to it. It’s true that people are so often ahead of politicians in their thinking….we lead and they stumble along behind us. May they catch up soon! Thanks for this good fight….to be continued. 💟 Phyllis

    Sent from Phyllis’s iPad


    Liked by 1 person

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