You may have heard of “colony collapse disorder”—it’s the phenomenon in recent years that’s caused million of honey bee death all over the world. Entire honey bee hives suffer from the phenomena, which puts a strain on the environment and agriculture.
The National Resources Defense Council attributes the alarming die-off to the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change, and disease. (1)
Moreover, loss of habitat results in overly-stressed young bees who are having to travel farther and farther for food. They are less experienced navigators than adult bees and are physically less able to go travel long distances. (2)
The Pesticide Problem
Perhaps the most harmful factor in bee colony collapse is the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Farmers spray them on seeds before planting and on plants as they grow. They work by attacking the nervous system of any insect that eats the plant, causing paralysis and death. Thier long-term effects on humans are still unknown.
When bees pollinate plants sprayed with these chemicals, they inadvertently take their residue back to the honey bee hive.
The Center for Food Safety did the research into how neonicotinoid pesticides are used and the theory behind why they are so prevalent.
Its conclusion: “Opinions from several independent experts reinforce that neonicotinoids are massively overused in the US, without a corresponding yield benefit, across numerous agricultural contexts. The bottom line is that toxic insecticides are being unnecessarily applied in most cases.” (3)
We may love the taste of honey, eat bee pollen for its exceptional nutrition, and use bee propolis for a sore throat but the importance of bees to all life on the planet can’t be over-emphasized, as it goes far beyond their beneficial by-products. Bees, above all other insects, are responsible for the pollination of flowers. Ninety percent of flowering plants require pollination to reproduce. (4)
If bees didn’t pollinate them, we’d be without many fruits, berries, beans, and vegetables to eat; cotton, linen, and hemp to wear; and new plants to provide oxygen that we breathe. (5) So bees are pretty critical if you look at it from that perspective.
How to Help the Bees
In the face of drastically dwindling bee colonies, every little bit helps.
Having your own honey bee hive isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You can make one yourself in a short time that takes up very little space. In return, you can attract bees who will pollinate your garden and surrounding green spaces. Bees will travel up to seven miles to forage and give you pure honey in return (6).