Bees have a bad rep, but without bees, our diets would consist of not much more than water. Honeybees are a crucial factor in our ecosystem and act as the sole pollinator of 168 billion dollars (US) worth of food globally a year. This sum can be approximated to ⅓ of the food we consume. Foods such as grapes, almonds, and avocados are dependent on the bee pollination process, crops cannot prosper without it. Essentially, without bees, there would be no avocado toast or wine. Horror.
Within the past year, 44% of American honeybee colonies have vanished. Their disappearance is referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder. It is a phenomenon where the majority of the working bees in a colony leave their hive, leaving behind only the queen and the young until eventually, the entire swarm dies off. Scientists have concluded that there are numerous contributing factors, such as climate change, diseases, and the most prominent, the use of harsh pesticides in agriculture.
How This Affects Us
Honeybees are not only the pillar of the agriculture industry (increasing crop prosperity by 300%) but they also are fundamental for our wildlife. Nearly 90% of wildflowers are pollinated by bees. Additionally, trees such as Willows and Poplar are also dependent on pollination. These plants provide food and shelter for numerous animals that are dependent on them for their survival. Bees, although so small, are a crucial player and without them could result in the fall of our natural ecosystem.
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” – Albert Einstein
What We Can Do
It is most definitely not too late for our the world’s bee population. There are many things simple things we can do to positively impact the wild honeybees that don’t involve any outdoor landscaping skills.
- Plant a small herb garden. Bees especially love lavender, thyme, chives and rosemary all of which take up minimal space and can be used for cooking.
- Be conscious of the honey you buy. Although buying raw locally sourced honey is more expensive it helps support farmers who use ethical farming practices.
- Don’t pick weeds! Dandelions, buttercups, and clovers are an important food source for wild bees.
- If a bee flies into your house don’t kill it! Open a window and let it fly out. It doesn’t want to be in there either.