Normally, I don’t like bees. They’ve got tiny twitchy legs, wriggly bodies, and soulless black eyes- plus a reputation for stinging people! But no matter how much I dislike bees, the undeniable truth is that we need them.
In North America, approximately 30% of the food we eat is produced from bee-pollinated plants. Bees are commonly associated with honey production, but they also pollinate numerous crops, such as different types of nuts, apples, avocados, all sorts of berries, melons, coffee, cucumbers, eggplants, grapes, kiwis, mangoes, peaches, pears, peppers, tangerines, and more. They also pollinate crops that are fed to livestock, buoying the meat industry, and produce materials like beeswax, which is a key ingredient in a variety of household products. Economically, bees generate billions of dollars of revenue each year, and provide jobs for beekeepers.
‘There are about 700,000 bee colonies in Canada, making us one of the top 10 honey producers in the world. Alberta is the biggest honey producer in the country with about 40% of the hive count (300,00 colonies).
The bee industry contributes more than $200 million a year into Canada’s economy with an added benefit to the agricultural industry worth more than $4 billion.’
-quoted from the Daily Herald Tribune
Tl;dr: bees are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT in food production and economy!
The bad news is, lately, bees have been dying faster than ever. The overall bee population decreases by an alarming 30% each year- that’s $2 billion lost in revenue every single year (and that’s only the US). Giant fields and parking lots have been found littered with the corpses of millions of bees as dozens of colonies are die off.
source: Bee Informed
If bees go extinct, people all around the world who depend on them will experience economic hardship, and possibly famine. As for the regular everyday consumer, we will lose 1/3 of food available to us.
Why Bees Are Dying
- Pesticide – specifically, a type of it called neonicotinoids, which is immediately fatal to bees and have caused millions of them to die. (Neonicotinoids have also been speculated to be harmful to humans. More on that here.)
2. Climate Change – increasing temperatures means that species are shifting towards the north. Unlike other insects, who simply move their habitats up, bee habitats are compressing and not moving. This is causing serious problems in bee population.
3. Varroa Mites- Varroa mites kill honeybees and their broods (eggs) by sucking blood out of them. Untreated infestations will escalate until the entire colony of bees is wiped out, and the mites are contagious from colony to colony. Luckily, there are certain treatments to fight the mites. For more info, check out this article from the University of Kentucky.
image source: http://txbeeinspection.tamu.edu/files/2014/10/Adult-bee-with-varroa-mites.jp g
4. Poor quality diet, transportation of colonies, etc. – there are lots of other factors that contribute to the mass bee death (known as colony collapse disorder). For more information, see this video:
What We Can Do
- Stop using pesticides and chemicals.
- Plant bee-friendly flowers/shrubs in your yard.
source: http://www.hannahrosengren.com/uploads/1/6/4/6/16465222/1956522.jpg?59 8
- Give bees a source of fresh water- put clean water in a shallow dish, and add rocks and twigs so the bees will have a place to land.
- Support local beekeepers.
- Sign petitions banning harmful pesticides.
- Spread the word! Contact local authority to encourage bee conservation and limit pesticide use (talk to your MP, local farmers, municipal government etc.) Tell your classmates, teachers, friends, and relatives about the problem and what they can do to help save the bees!
I hope you learned a thing or two from this blog post, and checked out some of the links in there too, because they’re super helpful. If you read through the whole post, I’d like to thank you on behalf of myself and the bees. If you don’t mind, please help spread the word about this problem! It’s our job to be the voices for those who cannot speak themselves, and we need everybody to pitch in and help save the bees. These tiny insects are so incredibly important to the wellbeing of the world.
If you liked this blog post, please like it, follow me here on WordPress, share it via social media- it only takes a minute and makes my day! Feedback and questions can all be put into the comments. That said, let’s all take a second to be grateful for the fact that we live in a world where bees still exist, and we can enjoy the benefits of their labour. The bees need our help, so let’s give it to them!
Thank you so much for reading!