The Big Bee Bummer

Bees are such an underrated insect and they're disappearing. If you hear this and you're thinking to yourself, "Who cares?", picture this scenario:

 

The shelves are nearly empty, the produce looks alright… but maybe that’s just the GMOs. However, trips to the grocery store will look dismal soon if honeybee colonies in the United States continue to die en masse. We humans greatly benefit from bee pollination, although this is not necessarily the bee’s intention. They simply pollinate to survive. Gaining their protein from pollen and their carbohydrates from nectar, bees naturally do the job that many humans have had to start doing manually due to a lack of bees in their region.

 

In fact, over one third of the world’s crop production is dependent upon bee pollination. These crops are increasingly at risk due to the spike in honeybee deaths that we have seen over the last seven years. Since World War II, we have been killing off our needed pollinators by making the switch from natural fertilizers such as clover and alfalfa to synthetic fertilizer, limiting the amount of nutritious food for bees. Not only that but we have also began farming practices that include herbicides and pesticides that compromise a bee’s immune system. Bee expert Marla Spivak reports that, “Bees are the most important pollinators of our fruits, vegetables, flowers, and crops such as alfalfa that feeds farm animals”. These crops and flowers will begin to disappear from our landscape if the bee population continues to perish, creating a dysfunctional food system. 

 

 While some claim that this disparity in bee life can be undone by planting more flowers, Spivak warns her audience that they must be bee-friendly — it won’t do any good to plant flowers ridden with pesticides. She says, “When bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services. And when bees have access to good nutrition, they're better able to engage their own natural defenses, their healthcare, that they have relied on for millions of years.” As our crops are reliant on pollination, and honeybees are reliant on good nutrition, it is clear that as a society, we must put more care and effort into maintaining our environment. This is not simply ensuring that bees receive good nutrition — we must account for and take care of the other species that bees symbiotically interact with. Once we take care of this, we will have much more fruitful and nutritious crop yieldings and end the big bee bummer.