Earth Day Blog
By Jake Bouck, GRCM Exhibits & Fabrication Manager
The last time I contributed to our blog for Earth day, I discussed our recycling and composting programs here at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. I am happy to say we are still fully involved in recycling our plastics, cardboard, paper, and metals as well as composting our food, paper, cardboard, and wood waste. We also have been working with local companies to take care of our light bulbs, batteries, and electronic waste.
This year, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss something a little more serious.
If you have been to GRCM you have probably seen our much beloved bee hive. It is an observation hive that allows you watch the bees making honey or the queen laying eggs. Our staff and guests love the bees but some may not know how essential bees are to the environment and our agricultural system. What makes them so important is that honey bees contribute greatly to the pollination of wild and domestic plants. Bees are responsible for the pollination of about 90 percent of wild plants and about 30 percent of our fruits and vegetables that we eat every day. Almond farmers are actually 100% dependent on bees to pollinate their trees and here in Michigan, blueberries and cherries are about 90% dependent on bees for pollination. The serious issue I wanted to talk about is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In the last 5 to 10 years, beekeepers all over the world have seen large losses of their bee colonies at around 30% yearly and it’s getting worse. Bees, like most organisms, have always been victims of various bacteria, viruses and parasites throughout history but none alone could explain the larger than normal losses from CCD. The most recent theories are that the combination of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides that are sprayed onto our crops are killing the bees themselves and/or making them more susceptible to disease and parasites. Those chemicals also make their way into the honey, plants, and animals that we eat. It is a scary notion that if Colony Collapse Disorder keeps getting worse there is potential for the bees to die off, which could have serious environmental and agricultural implications. This would cause a myriad of problems for beekeepers and farmers that work so hard to provide us with the food we eat. I have all the faith in the world that humanity has the capability to develop sustainable and eco-friendly ways to maintain and improve food production without harming the environment and ourselves in the process.
As always, we are here to provide, through play, a safe and fun learning environment for children. Teaching kids to respect and love the natural world is very important to me and I’m hoping we can be an inspiration to our guests as well as to other organizations. We need to leave a better world for our children and teach them to leave one for their children.
I will be here at GRCM on April 19th from10am to 2pm for An Earth Day Celebration talking about bees! So come on in to play and to learn more about bees! Also, you will be able to plant a seed to take home, create some recycled art, see some animals from John Ball Park, try a clean water obstacle course with 20 Liters, and the Swanson Foundation will be giving away a limited amount of tree saplings!
Also check out these links to learn more about bees.