Some years ago I brought home three raspberry plants from our relatives in Minnesota. They are spring bearing plants. Over the years they multiplied and I have 2 twelve feet rows now. I take good care of my raspberry plants, fertilize them in the spring with alfalfa meal, cut out the spend canes (they are usually brown and woody), and loosen up the soil. For the past years, during June and early July, I had a bumper crop of filling up tray after tray for many days, enough to make delicious jam, freeze some for Jello and eat some with my breakfast cereal.
This year, after making all the same preparations, I harvested for the most part, maybe 10 berries on some days. What happened?
We had a lot of rain during the spring season here in South West Ohio. Could that be the problem? Then I heard a report on TV about the disappearing honey bees. I do all my gardening with organic fertilizer (I read that organic farms are not plagued with honeybees disappearing).
It seems that honeybees have been disappearing nationwide. That maybe o.k. for my amateur garden project, but what about the fields of farmers who are providing our food supply? I did some research on that and found that it is a dilemma which may threaten our food supplies in general.
Honeybees and other insects are important not just for the sweet honey but for pollination of all the fruits trees, bushes and vegetables.
Even scientists are puzzled by this phenomena. The discussion goes from global warming, increased usage of pesticides, cell phone usage (increase of electrical disturbances), to general collapsing of bee colonies.
For those of us living in cities and suburbs the disappearance of honeybees maybe good news, especially for parents of children worrying about getting stung by a bee. But it is a real concern for the farmers who supply our foods.
From the vanishing bees website:
Have you ever thought about what bees do for us? By flying from flower to flower they gather nectar and pollen. One bee only produces very little honey in her lifetime. That’s why they live in colonies, their power is in the numbers. The greater importance than producing the sweet honey is their function of pollination. By flying form plant to plant they are touching the stamen and the pistil and pollination takes place. For plants which are not self-pollinating, this is crucial for producing fruits and therefore new life.
I am crossing my fingers that next year I will have a better harvest. I saw some bees buzzing over the cleome flowers which always self-seed themselves. That gives me hope for the next season.