Many plants produce nectar to encourage insects like bees, wasps, and butterflies to visit their flowers and pollinate them. In this symbiotic relationship, bees use the nectar they gather from flowers to make honey for food, and in the process, pollinate flowers with tiny pollen granules that dust off their hind legs.
Many of the foods and luxuries of western living that are taken for granted would not exist if it were not for the work of the honeybee. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, honey bees contribute over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production, and economic loss is just the beginning.
As author of the book The Life of the Bee Maurice Maeterlinck wrote, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Today, honey bees are dying at an alarming rate.
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
There are likely multiple reasons for the honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurring now on earth, including:
- Pesticides – A French study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that pesticides used to fertilize plants for agriculture and lawn care weaken the health of honeybees, resulting in honeybee death from disease.
- Wireless Radiation – In a study at Panjab University in India, researchers attached cell phones to a hive and powered them up for two periods of fifteen-minutes each day. Three months later the bees stopped producing honey, egg production by the queen reduced by half, and the hive dramatically reduced in size. As UK biologist Andrew Goldsworthy has said, “Animals, including insects, use cryptochrome for navigation. They use it to sense the direction of the earth’s magnetic field and their ability to do this is compromised by radiation from [cell] phones and their base stations. So basically bees do not find their way back to the hive.”
A World Without Bees
The number of honey bee colonies not surviving winter is increasing every year. The importance of having healthy bees can be learned by understanding what the world would be like without them.
The following fruits require multiple visits from bees to pollinate all of their large numbers of seeds, and would not exist in a world without bees:
- Kiwi Fruit
Most vegetables would no longer be available for us to eat in a world without bees. Tasteless and unhealthy would be cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, avocados, as well as some peas and beans. Coffee and tea would no longer exist.
Cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and collards, all need bees to produce seeds for future growing seasons. Without bees, we would run out of seeds in a very short period of time, and all of these foods would go extinct.
The only produce that would survive if we don’t repopulate honey bees and create a world in which they can thrive are corn, bananas and pineapples.
Grazing animals such as cows, pigs, goats, and chickens give us foods like meat, milk, dairy and eggs. Since they rely on pasture grasses for their survival, and grasses need bees to make seed, there would be no meat, milk, cheese, butter, or yogurt of any kind. All of our carnivorous pets like dogs and cats would die because in order to be healthy they require primarily animal foods.
Fabrics like cotton and hemp require bees for pollination, so no longer would we have these textiles to produce clothing, blankets, sheets, or towels.
We now understand the need for bees, what’s killing them, and what the world would be like without them. There is a dire need to repopulate honey bees and ensure that the environment can sustain their lives, so that they can sustain ours. How do we fix the problem of the dying honey bee?
Urban Beekeeping to the Rescue!
As the revolution in Urban Agriculture rages on, and the majority of food production begins to take place within cities, additional honeybees will be required to pollinate our food crops. Honey bees improve garden productivity by increasing garden crop harvest quantity and quality. Well suited sites for beehives are suburban backyards and urban rooftops. Honeybees, like human beings, can thrive in densely-populated cities.
Bee Scientist Noah Wilson-Rich, who spoke in a 2013 TED Talk, found that most bee colonies are lost in the winter months. Interestingly, through his research he has discovered that bees survive better through the winter months in cities than they do in the country. Additionally, he found that bees produce more honey when they live in the city.
We now understand that not only are more honeybees needed in cities, but they actually survive better in cities. May this post serve to inspire thousands of people to take action and begin restoring honeybee populations by becoming a new generation Urban Beekeepers.
How to Start Your Own Honeybee Hive
There are a couple great options for those looking to start their own honeybee hive:
- Join a Beekeeping Club – A quick Google search for beekeeping clubs in your area will help you find experienced beekeepers who can show you their hives, and answer all your questions about what it takes to begin one yourself.
- The Best Bees Company – In Boston, Massachussets, Best Bees will deliver, install, and manage a honeybee hive for your residential dwelling, or your business. As they say on their website, the bees, wax, hive, and ALL of the honey belong to you. Their primary objective is not profit, but to continue receiving research funding so they can help discover ways to improve honey bee health.
Complete Honeybee Hive Kits
Vanishing of The Bees Documentary:
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