The bees: a growing crisis you likely have heard about, from a friend of a family member, or happened to see a “Save The Bees” sticker on someone’s laptop. Bees are oftentimes seen as pesky creatures that serve only to ruin a summer’s day or a lunchtime picnic. However, as we are taught in elementary school, bees serve a purpose other than stinging - pollination of plants. The reproduction of many plants depend on these flying creatures, and respectively, many of our food sources.
However, the demise of these beneficial insects is approaching its peak, with winters in Iowa killing more than 70% of honeybee populations, a sign of climate changes impact on the bee population. This is occurring in many other states too, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota. Additionally, droughts in California and honey colony diseases in Florida has cut bee production almost in half, driving a new crisis called Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. The alarming decline of honeybee populations is growing in speed every day, and comes with an enormous loss of inventory and revenue for us. The unprecedented pandemic affects us in shocking ways, while not obvious to us.
It is estimated that every third bite of food we take is fueled by honeybees, and that more than 100 fruits and vegetables that we eat are pollinated by honeybees. This implicates an immense impact on our diet, and additionally the diet that keeps us balanced and healthy.
This impact that may occur to our diet has launched many different studies and efforts made to understand the reasons why and the future impact it will have on our world - a study conducted by the USDA and the EPA. The report stated that there were many different factors that played a role in honeybee colony decline, which included parasites: the identification of a parasitic mite named the Varroa mite is a major factor in the loss of honeybee colonies. Other major factors include the need for increased genetic diversity of plants that bees pollinate, a risk of overuse of pesticides and poor nutrition along bee colonies.
With this pressing problem that is often overshadowed by more imminent events, our future lies in the hands of taking precautions for the health of America’s honeybees. Some things that we can do to help, individually include: planting bee-friendly flowers in your yard, encouraging some growth of weeds to facilitate a haven for honeybees, placing a tub of water next to your garden that is attracting honey bees to keep them hydrated, using less pesticides, and most importantly spreading the news and sharing these solutions with others in your community: the responsibility is on all to pitch in on this global movement.