China's Human Bees
There’s a new book about honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, the unexplained disappearance of worker bees leading to the destruction of bee colonies throughout the world. A recent interview with the author of Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis had this nugget (h/t Andrew Sullivan):
And then there’s human pollination, as they’re doing in China. (Take millions of peasants, hand them bundles of chicken feathers, and let them climb through the fruit trees, touching every flower with a bit of pollen from a bucket.)
I hadn’t heard of this before, but it’s used for cherry orchards in Shandong (see above right) and is quite common in Xinjiang, where migrant labor for the cotton and pear agribusiness (run by the Bingtuan, or Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps) is used to cross pollinate crops after winter and to develop new hybrid strains. Just one of the many jobs that predominantly Uighur migrant workers will not be doing anytime soon given the bottom is falling out of the cotton market. When you can’t even get this job, you’re bound to be rather unhappy.
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