ARTICLE: The bears and the bees: Humans messing up the natural world, again
By Patt Morrison
L.A., we have been seeing waaaaay too many movies — and not enough nature documentaries.
First, the news:
Glen Bearian — so named for his Glendale haunts and with a clever Armenian-sounding surname for a city with a large Armenian population — had been cooling off in a local pool not long before he was tranquilized and carted back to the Angeles National Forest by Fish and Game officials for the second time in four months.
He’s been wandering around foothill streets, and in April, before he was shipped back to the wild the first time, he startled a gadget-absorbed pedestrian who — in the fashion of so many text-obsessed people who have almost walked right into me — almost ran right into the bear in Montrose.
And then my colleague Steve Lopez just reported on urban beekeepers in Los Angeles, where the law bans hives but where residents are tending their own backyard hives, which may be the saving of bee populations that are collapsing in the wild. (I know an urban beekeeper, but you’ll never Abu Ghraib that out of me.)
And in May, Santa Monica police shot and killed a mountain lion that had wandered into a courtyard in a city office building and gotten trapped — killed unnecessarily, to some locals’ way of thinking, and they made their feelings known.
…ditto the bees. Anyone in a neighborhood complains and the bees are exterminated as if they were pests, instead of a tiny, vital part of the food chain. All those killer bee movies seem to make city folk think that the honeybee, the workhorse of agriculture, ornamental and comestible, is out there raring to kill us.
I was astonished by some of the comments on Lopez’s piece, people demanding that the city wipe out all beehives because someone in their family has a serious allergy to bee venom.
Really? Kill off all urban bees because you’re afraid your child might be stung? While we’re at it, let’s take out school and park swing sets because someone might get hurt. Let’s chop down that tree because some kid might try to climb it. Oh wait, we did that already, didn’t we?
Without bees, whole swaths of agriculture could collapse, floraculture could collapse, all the creatures dependent on them would go — boom, boom, boom, domino, dead.
Already honeybees are themselves in a state of collapse in parts of the country. Bees are so scarce that California almond growers are having to patronize rent-a-hive businesses to get the bee pollinators into their orchards. Agriculture isn’t just “out there” either. Urban gardeners and urban gardens could help to save bee populations, and Los Angeles still bears traces of what it once was, even afterWorld War II: the richest agricultural county in the nation.
We humans had better wise up. At the rate we’re going, with the attitude we bring to our dealings with these creatures — destroying their homes to build ours, intolerant of even the insects whose survival is closely tied to our own — in very short order the only place we’ll be able to see them is on movie screens.