Save the Bees to Save the World
By Anna Howard
October 7, 2016
Bee populations are decreasing drastically, leaving people wondering where they could have possibly gone. Unfortunately, decades of indifference on the issue have led to need for quick and powerful action now. But will we have enough time?
The bees, proclaimed to be a long-time enemy of the human race, have an important presence in agriculture that has been unacceptably overlooked.
It is estimated that bees are responsible for at least 1 in every 3 bites of food on our plate. Not only do they keep our fields full of flowers; they also pollinate some of our best vegetative plants. These include favorites such as watermelon, strawberries, mangos, and apples.
In the process, they help boost our economy. More than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees. Consequently, their disappearance would result in losses of about $5.7 billion per year due to increase in production costs and lower crop yields.
There are four main causes of this worrisome decline, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
This affects the time of year that some crops and plants bloom, which can be an issue because bees hibernate. So when some bees are coming out of hibernation, they might not have access to the same resources and nutrients that they need to survive.
Largely attributed to the actions of humans, habitat loss can be caused by new development, abandoning farms, and planting gardens with flowers that are not pollinator-friendly.
Pesticides, what are they good for? Exactly what the name itself entails. Pesticides are used by landowners to keep away unwanted visitors that might destroy their crops or gardens. What they fail to realize is that they are killing off pollinators such as bees while doing so, lessening the likelihood of successful crop season and endangering the bee species.
Unbeknownst to even some of the best of bee farmers, bees get parasites, too. These can be extremely harmful, especially if the queen bee is first infected. The most prominent incident in the U.S. was when Varroa mites were introduced, leaving the bee population to nearly 2% of what it was before.
The falling bee population has become more present over the past few years as humans still refuse to take precautions to protect them.
Without bees, a large portion of crops would die off due to lack of pollination. This could cause extinction of particular plants that we rely on, severe inflation in the economy in terms of agricultural produce and a lack of balance in our ecosystem.
Now, with the U.S. having put up to 7 different types of bees on the endangered species list, it’s important we take action. Thankfully, there are ways that we can prevent this from becoming an even grander problem.
- Plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden or yard to provide them with forage. You can find a helpful list of plants that bees love here.
- Avoid using chemicals or pesticides to treat your garden; these are harmful to the natural order of honeybee systems.
- Try to buy raw honey from local beekeepers. You can often find people selling honey at farmer’s markets, and raw honey from more organic-driven stores.
- Put a small basin of water outside your home for bees to drink. Pollinators get thirsty, too!
- Grasp that honeybees are peaceful vegetarians and definitely not out to get you. They just want to forage pollen and nectar and be on their way, back to their colonies.
If you feel passionate about saving bees from further endangerment, there are also petitions you can sign to raise awareness and halt this biodiversity-shattering train known as bee extinction.