#bees are some the most hard-working creatures on the planet. In ancient Egypt they were thought to be a sacred insect that signified immortality and resurrection. The most important thing bees do for us is pollinate crops. Pollination is essential for the vast majority of plants to reproduce and thus provide us with food. It's estimated that cross-pollination from bees helps 1/3 of the world’s food crops and nearly all wild plants to grow. Bees are so crucial to the cycle that the majority of our plants and crops would go #extinct without them.
Do Bees really do that much?
In the United States alone, bees pollinate over $15 billion worth of crops including apples, avocados, berries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, alfalfa, and almonds. Bees also produce about $150 million worth of honey each year. That is a mind boggling amount of free labor. According to the NRDC (National Resource Defense Council) since 2006, nearly 1/3 of all honey bee colonies in the US have disappeared due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This disorder is caused by a combination of global warming, loss of habitat, pesticide exposure, invasive parasites, and inadequate food supply.
In 1987, when the Varroa mite was first discovered to be infecting the bee population, #monsanto, Dow, Bayer and other large chemical manufacturers forced their way into the bee industry by selling genetically modified insecticides and herbicides. Instead of curing the disease, it only weakened the bees’ natural genetic defenses to fight off the parasite. Monsanto, also known as the ‘Most Evil Company’ in the world, then went on to producing an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), from genetically altered corn. When ingested by the bees, the Bt binds to receptors in their stomach lining and prevents the bee from eating. This significantly weakens the bee and breaks down the lining of their inner stomach wall, creating a high susceptibility to spores and bacteria. For years Monsanto denied to the public the role they played in the damage to the bee’s internal immune capacity and continued to kill off the worldwide bee population.
Furthermore, insecticides created by Monsanto containing neonicotinoids have been discovered to cause acute and chronic poisoning of bees. By contaminating nectar and pollen spread through the plant’s DNA, the bee brings it back to the hive, creating a highly toxic living environment. Toxicity builds up within each member of the hive, destroying their Central Nervous Systems and causing complete disorientation. The bees are then unable to return to the hive and die. This is known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
How bad is it?
This past Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that honey bees be classified as an endangered species. According to Reuters, this would be the first wild bee species in the United States to be recommended for federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
In Europe and Australia where the health of humans and other living organisms is deemed more important than the profits of large corporations, laws banning insecticide use have been passed. This has largely saved bee populations from being so decimated there. However, with bees essentially providing us with the majority of our food, perhaps its time we look into more renewable forms of energy as well as natural forms of pest control.