When I was a child, I was raised in a city in Southern California. In fourth grade my parents moved us up to the mountains to a small little community with one school, one market, a central post office, and a population of around 2000. This town came complete with a tavern and an old west type of setting in which rows of buildings had those old wooden plank "side walks" and huge façades. A person could walk anywhere they needed to. Families left their doors unlocked whether they were home or not. It was the perfect setting for an adventurous child. I would ride my bike up and down the street without a worry about cars. My friends and I would hike around exploring endless miles of countryside. My over protective mother even trusted me and the neighborhood enough to leave me home alone without worrying she'd come home to find me kid-napped (after sending me to an after-school daycare for the first 6 or so months while she became acclimated to this wholesome place). In October we would dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, and when we would bring our abundant stash of goodies home, we didn't throw away the homemade popcorn balls and taffy. No, we ate those first! No fear of crazy people trying to poison us.
Needless to say, I did not notice the town slowly changing and growing while I lived in it (Aside from possibly more traffic). Then I went away to college and I would come back on vacation to find the new digital gas pumps at the gas station, or the permanent bus stop by the post office. Then there were side walks. When I moved out of state I came back less often, but every time something had changed. And most of the time it wasn't something small either. This last visit back was a shocker!
I had been aware that the town was building a new library. Why they couldn't just expand on the existing one, I don't know; however, they decided it was in the towns best interest to cut down one of the oldest (300, 400, 500 years old) oak trees at my old school bus stop, along with some other smaller oaks, and erect this huge monstrosity of a building. I'm not quite sure why a town with only 2300 people in it needs a library the size of a city library, but apparently this town must be up and coming. Don't get me wrong. I'm very for education, and I love libraries, but I can't justify the destruction and waste this new project has caused. The designer should have taken into consideration the size of the town and the location of the building instead of just designing the biggest thing that would look great on a city block, but has no place in a small country town.
Well, yesterday I get a voice mail from my mother saying she has a question regarding some bees she has found. I phone her back and she tells me they are cutting down some more oaks next to this project (though on further clarification, it sounds like they are only cutting some branches and hopefully leaving the trees) In the course of removing one big branch, which people are are all standing around like hyenas waiting to collect the fallen, free lumber, they managed to select a branch containing a honeybee hive. My mother, on her daily walk around the park noticed some broken combs with nearly dead bees in the cells, butts sticking out. My mother tells me that her heart just went out to them, and she knew they were dieing, and seeing as I've recently decided to start keeping bees, and I have been reading up as much as possible before my bee's arrive, my mother was hoping I could give her some advice on how to save them. Well, by the time I had phoned her back she had already gotten a hold of two semi local beekeepers, one of whom sounded knowledgeable, and basically told her there was nothing she could do to help them. He said that they would not survive without a queen and most likely she had been killed in the fall. Of course, from the little I've gleaned so far, there is a small chance they could survive without their queen, as they could make a new one from any of the brood that is under three days old, however, she would not be able to go on a mating flight until spring. Not to mention, their hive is now destroyed and the amount of food they would need to build new comb in a new hive is probably unattainable at this time of year. It takes 8 pounds of honey to make one frame of comb and they need this comb to store food and their new brood.
I'm glad it wasn't me who came across the fallen bee hive. I think I would have cried. As it was I think my mother nearly cried herself. So now, not only have they cut down a ?00's year old tree, but they've wasted tons of resources on an over-sized building, gallons of water to wash the new parking lot and sidewalk (which, by the way, are in a dirt road mountain community. They're going to get "dirty" again in five minutes!), consumed more resources and fuel to pave a path through our park (which was doing just fine with the dirt path it had), and now they've destroyed a colony of wild bees. I know that realistically in the grand scheme of things one colony does not an endangered species make, but with my new found love of the girls (worker bees are female, and most of the bees in the hive will be workers) it just adds to the ache already in my heart regarding my small little town and its mad dash into the world of progress.