Why are Honey Bees Important to Us?
Bees pollinate. They pollinate all types of flowers and plants, but most importantly to us: crops. In fact, some sources suggest honey bees are responsible for increasing crop values in the U.S. by more than $15 billion (USDA, 2015). Even though the crop value is increasing, it is only able to go up because there is a high demand for food. There is simply not enough food, ultimately. This is a compounding problem. First, there is not enough food. Second, there are not enough honey bees for the food we are already producing, so they must work harder and end up dying faster. Third, as food production will continue to rise, a further strain will be placed on the honey bees that do still exist. No matter how much food we produce, it will unfortunately never be enough, as the population, globally, is scaling far too quickly. The math is unsustainable in fact. One thing is for sure: we will not be able to forever rely on honey bee pollination and the end of those times is coming quite quickly as well.
What is happening to all of the Honey Bees?
So, are the honey bees still disappearing? Yes. Indeed they are and the honey bee fatality rate has been higher than ever in recent years and seems to be worse in areas where pesticides are more heavily sprayed. In the 1940s, there were more than 5 million active honey bee colonies in the United States. In modern times, there are only about 2.5 million active honey bee colonies in the United States. This has been known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD does not mean that the colonies do not exist…but rather the colonies are lacking adult bees (and no adult bee dead bodies are found either). The colony still possesses a live queen and immature adolescent bees, as well as honey.
Many things have become adversaries to the honey bee throughout the last few decades. In fact, between the 60s and 80s, the use of pesticides doubled (Clive, 2004). Meanwhile the world population is increasing, food production is increasing and the demand for honey bee colonies to be responsible for more pollination than usual is increasing. The honey bees have to work harder and travel longer to keep up with our needs and simply won’t be able to keep up much longer. For example, the California crop of almonds (as in the nut) is exported to the entire world and worth over $4 billion; and it takes more than 60 percent of the entire remaining population of bees in the United States to pollinate this one crop. That is just ONE crop and should explain how serious the bee problem really is!
The 80s and 90s were especially a bad time for the bees. A major increase in pesticides caused new pathogens to form (deformed wing virus and nosema fungi). New parasites emerged, such as the Varroa mites. Small bee hive beetles thrived, causing major hive issues. Nutrition issues arose due to restriction in diet (bees were being forced to pollenate only one type of nectar, whereas a normal bee diet includes diverse pollination). And the response of the bee keepers was to increase the demand expected of the dying bees. No wonder they’re dying.
What Causes Colony Collapse Disorder?
CCD has been a huge mystery; however, recently (2013), researchers from the University of Maryland working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), have discovered a list of chemical pesticides and fungicides infiltrating the hives by way of contaminated pollen.
Could it be that there is such a demand on farmers to produce more crops that pesticides are being used to increase the crop yields, which ultimately is killing the bees which pollinate it? Seems like a no brainer, honestly and has been a theory since the conception of pesticides. The University of Maryland and USDA study was taken a little further when pollen collected from pesticide-contaminated hives on the east coast was given to healthy bees. The healthy bees suffered a major immune system deficiency which made them vulnerable to a particular parasite (Nosema ceranae), capable of causing the sudden death of an entire colony (CCD). Though it has not been able to be directly linked to a particular pesticide or fungicide ingredient, it can be safe to say that dumping 21 different chemicals onto the plants which feed us sounds like a really bad idea.
How does this Affect You?
As the honey bees continue to decrease, the cost of honey bee pollination services will greatly increase. This increase is going to be passed onto you and me, the consumers. Food prices are going to go up. This could contribute to a global food crisis, and stress the economic viability of several foods and products. The viability of several foods, if not all of the food, is already compromised, as these chemicals have been proven to cause cancer (Toxics Action Center, 2015). That’s right: they release chemicals that intentionally kill things in the environment, including us, the consumers. One pesticide, Neonicotinoids (also called neonics) is very commonly used and thought to prevent the bee’s nerve endings from functioning; then the bee starves to death (PSU, 2012).
What Happens After the Bees Die?
As the bees die, crop costs will dramatically increase as most crops will die. One third of the global food supply is pollinated by bees. So by dramatically increased prices, we do mean only the rich and wealthy will be able to afford to eat. OR those with a self-sustaining garden free from the grid and rest of the world. The health of the environment and the health of the world requires the bees to thrive, not die.
The more bees that die, the worse things will get, and the last decade has been especially threatening to bees. Dead bee colonies have tripled in recent years. Between April 2014 and April 2015, America lost 40 percent of their bee colonies.
If any of this is confusing or you aren’t getting the message, I will help clarify for you: Holy BLEEP!
How to Prepare For When the Bees Die
The bees can teach us an important lesson. It goes to show how fast things can change from economic stability to emergency food crisis. If food becomes harder to attain, which some suggest could happen extremely quickly, having your own emergency survival garden is an invaluable resource. When properly constructed and protected, a garden of your own will have no pesticides, fungicides, pollutants or problems.
Surviving Food Crisis with Your Own Survival Garden Seed Bank
Here are two really great seed banks we recommend on amazon:
It is important to understand that not all plants can pollinate themselves, and many of them require bees. To properly prepare for the end of bees, your self-sustainable survival garden should be sure to stock self-pollinating seeds.
Here is a list of vegetable crops you should stock seeds for, which do not require bees to pollinate (crops which pollinate themselves will be marked with a 1; crops which require help from humans to pollinate will be marked with a 2):
Below ground-rooted vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes)1
Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower)1
Herbs (lemon balm, parsley, and sage)1
Legumes (peas and beans)1
Just be sure to stock a little more of these seeds than others and you will also be able to survive the end of the bees by planting and maintaining your own survival garden.
Survival Multivitamins: Nutrient Necessities
These are some of the most reliable and best multivitamins for an emergency and survival, which we recommend on amazon:
Edwards, Clive A., 2004. Pesticides: Pollution A to Z. Retrieved from: Encyclopedia.com
PSU, 2012. Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees? Penn State University. Retrieved from: http://ento.psu.edu/publications/are-neonicotinoids-killing-bees
Toxics Action Center, 2015. The Problem with Pesticides. Toxics Action Center. Retrieved from: toxicsaction.org
USDA, 2015. Honey Bee Health and Colony Collapse Disorder. United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Services. Retrieved from ars.usda.gov
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