We’ve just been for a walk down the east pier in Dun Laoghaire, something you probably realise we do very regularly these days. From the pier, we had been watching a sunlit ship emblazoned with Corsica Ferries and Sardinia Ferries leave Dublin port. Then, to our surprise, the ship turned somewhere beyond Howth and returned to port.
I imagined it was a berthing practice run rather than a breakdown. I imagined we were looking at a ferry chartered from the Mediterranean and its crew in training before being put into service from Dublin.
Then I read an article in Afloat and learned that it’s not about securing another sea route to avoid the land-bridge in the UK. It’s about maintaining the ferry route to Holyhead.
I also realised, as we walked, that I had found a tenuous link between Sardinia and my breakfast. Or Italy and Euronews, to be precise. It turns out that Brexit has proscribed the import of bee colonies into mainland Britain from Europe. In a UKIPish twist, Britains can welcome queens but the immigration of foreign workers is banned.
On a day when Britain is being lauded for offering 15 million vaccines (applause), a guy in snowy, pollarded Kent was complaining that the 15 million bees he ordered a year ago will be slaughtered if he brings them to pollinate the fruit crops in Kent. He lamented his vote to leave Europe saying that ‘I’ve been in business for forty years, I never thought I could get hoodwinked into a process that was going to be detrimental not just for me, but for the country; it’s farcical’. But there’s a loophole, also farcical. The Italian bees can travel into Ireland and once they cross the border into Northern Ireland, like humans, they can head to Kent.
Globally, fees for pollination by bees are big business. So lucrative in the US, that commercial bees have been known to suffer from exhaustion from over use. But the story of the enslavement of the bee is much worse. And it’s getting worse all the time. One case involves the loss of 50 billion bees in the US in a few months during 2018-19 winter.
Your breakfast honey and almond milk cost the health and lives of the billions of bees that have been helping out in the industrial production of so much of our foods. And if you are in the UK, the apiarist in Kent predicted fruit imports will have to grow in order to offset the reduction in fruit tree pollination due to the lack of immigrant worker bees.
Follow up reading that might be of interest:
Like sending bees to war from The Guardian 2020
Assessing Market and Non-market Values of Pollination Services in Ireland
I have to digress to the funeral we saw on Marine Road while coming home from our walk. A 10 o’clock gathering of bereaved family and friends. Masked and half-masked, more than a score of people stood around the hearse looking a bit dazed. Sorry, I hate to sound unsympathetic and to be assuming the worst. But what I saw made me think about the reasons for the rules that guide our behaviour in a pandemic. And seeing the lack of adherence, openly, on the main street of a very large town undermined my confidence.