As the battle against skeeters and their West Nile virus-infected souls continues to play out on the ground and now potentially in the sky, the Texas Honey Bee Guild has gathered in their war room, with maps spread out across the tables and phones buzzing (get used to it), in an all-hands-on-deck fight to protect the local bee population.
"We have a small army of people that we can mobilize and are ready to help," said Brandon Pollard of the Texas Honeybee Guild.
They'll start their offensive by speaking on behalf of the bees at the Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday and at the City Council meeting Wednesday.
But they're working on bigger plans for once the pesticides hit the fan (or propellers) to literally provide a little cover for the local bee population. Essentially, they're collecting large appliance and garment boxes to protect the beehives from the falling chemicals.
The Texas Honeybee Guild is collecting these type of large boxes at the Dallas Eco-Op at 10137A Shoreview in Lake Highlands.
"As bee keepers, it's common practice to cover colonies when crops are getting blanket sprays," explained Pollard. There are some obvious precautions that need to be taken (all of which, obviously, should only be considered by a seasoned bee keeper).
One problem is that the boxes could cause the bees to suffocate.
"That's the crux of the issue. They need air. You can't completely seal it," said Pollard. "Which is why we need the really big boxes so that there's room between the bottom of the hive and the bottom of the turned-over box."
If/when the planes hit the skies, they'll deploy the army to carefully place boxes over beehives, ideally as late as possible just before the spraying. Then, the boxes need to be lifted in the morning.
The second problem, Pollard explained, is that as the sun rises the bees start to look for water.
"Sadly, because it's so hot, bees need a lot of water, just like people do," said Pollard. "So while we're trying to mitigate the affects of the pesticides with the boxes, the bees could drink from highly contaminated water, which would be deadly."
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Pollard added that there are a lot of things everyone can do to help the situation long term.
"All would benefit from us being a little more responsible with the areas around our homes and apartments," Pollard added, then pointed to the city of Dallas website that cautions everyone to bring their family pets inside during spraying.
Specifically, he encourages being particularly aware of all water receptacles, fishponds and birdbaths as that they should all be covered as well if there's an aerial spray.
If you'd like to help, check the Texas Honeybee Guild's Facebook page for direction. If you have large boxes, the point of contact is the Dallas Eco-Op. If you're at a meeting and see a guy buzzing about in a bee suit, that's Pollard (for the record, he used to be a professional soccer player). If you see a bee, say thanks for that whole food supply thing. Then say sorry for. ... Well, just sorry. Really really sorry.