Food supply and Bees – what’s the connection? What Would Happen if Bees Went Extinct? What would our world look like without bees?
Did you know that as far as important species go, bees are at the top of the list? Bees are critical pollinators, they pollinate a majority of the crop species that feed 90% of the world. Honeybees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops. A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Yes, you read it right!
Nearly one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on honeybees for pollination, but over the last decade, the black-and-yellow insects have been dying at an unprecedented rate, all over the world.
Bees… We can’t live without you
Even if you are afraid of bees, you need them. They are responsible for much of the food on your plate. Bees perform a task that is vital to the survival of agriculture: pollination. In fact, one-third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. Without bees, humans wouldn’t have very much to eat.
While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop, here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if all our bees continue to perish – Almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupes, cashews, coffee, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplants, grapes, kiwis, mangoes, mustard, okra, onions, potato, peaches, pears, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, tomato, walnuts and watermelons to name just a few.
And that’s only the start!! We may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, all of the animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain. Which means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the global human population of 7 billion. Our supermarkets would have half the amount of fruits and vegetables.
Why Are Bees Disappearing?
Since the end of World War II, the use of pesticides in agriculture has increased exponentially. It is now suggested that the widespread use of a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death known as neonicotinoids is having a detrimental impact on the health of bees. Neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine, are an extremely popular pesticide. They are also likely poisoning bees and other pollinators. In essence, pesticides are terrible for the environment, and they are killing the organisms that help the world and humans to survive.
It’s important to note, however, that while pesticides are likely a large part of the reason bees are dying, there are other factors in play as well. It is believed that bees are also dying from various parasites, like the Varroa mite.
Hence, bees are dying from a combination of factors, but primarily due to the impact of human practices and the ongoing problems associated with climate change.
Humans are destroying wild habitats in which bees traditionally get their food. When bees pollinate various plants, they are also receiving sustenance in return. Some beekeepers have attempted to replace natural nectar with a substitute to feed their bees, but ultimately it doesn’t sustain bee health the same way. There is no substitute for the natural way of the world.
Moreover, it is believed that climate change has also led to a disruption in the synchronization of flower opening and bee hibernation. This also causes bees to die. So, we could say that, humans are terrible for bees. Pesticides, environmental degradation and pollution are all contributing to the alarming rate of bee deaths.
The terrible irony of this is, by killing bees, we are hurting ourselves. Our survival depends on the health of the planet and its species, and unless we begin to realize this then we will continue to contribute to its demise – and our own.
So, now that Food supply and Bees- what’s the connection, has been answered – what can we do to help save the bees?
Luckily, there are already efforts to save bees and other pollinators. In fact, the USDA has announced $8 million in incentives for farmers who establish new habitats for honeybee population.
It doesn’t take joining a bee advocacy group or running a non-profit organization to help the bees. We can help bees right from our own backyard. There are a few easy things we can do at home to help the healthy continuation of local bees.
Include a variety of plants in your garden to support a year-round bloom season. Mint, roses and sunflowers are great options. Give bees colourful options in a variety of sizes. Surprisingly, bees display different preferences for bloom colours and sizes. Plant several varieties of the same species together so that bees have multiple blooms of the same type from which to choose. We need flowers in urban and rural environments. This will help ensure the health of bees and our crops.
Like every living thing on earth, bees also need water to survive. A shallow bird bath gives these precious pollinators a place to hydrate. If possible, provide bees with some good shelter. This could include simple solutions like paver stones set in sand or patches of bare soil. If
you’re so inclined, there are a number of bee houses that can be purchased online. These tiny dwellings give bees the opportunity to take refuge from rain, heat or predators.
We only get one planet Earth, there are no second chances. When a species goes extinct, that’s the end. We cannot allow bees to go extinct if we are to have any hope of surviving. There is no better time than now to begin reversing the detrimental impact humans have had on the environment. The first step is educating people on the problem, and how they can contribute to a solution. This is an endeavour that will require the participation of all of the world’s 7.1 billion inhabitants. When it comes to the survival of the planet, we cannot afford to be ignorant or apathetic.
It makes a huge difference, even if you do your little part to save the bees. If we are to stop bees and a huge chunk of our food supply from vanishing, we have to work together.
.In Short: Honeybees, who as a species have the ability to support the industry of commercial pollination, and by extension, a large portion of our food supply, is in serious danger. We have to do all we can to save them, before they become extinct