A Sticky Wicket Of A Problem … BEES … Or Rather A Lack Of … Part I

A few months back, when I mentioned the crisis of the declining bee population, one person commented that she could live without honey if she had to.  I sometimes get highly annoyed, to say the least, about such inane comments, but other times I see it as a teaching experience.  In this case, I tried to educate, but the person simply shrugged and actually said, “Oh well”.  Today, two articles, combined with the Trump administration’s lack of regard for protections of our environment, prompted me to write about the declining bee population once again, this time in more depth.

Bees-beekeeper.jpgThere is a plague that is being called ‘Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)’, that is decimating the bee population.  By the end of bee season last April, the commercial bee population had declined by 44%, as compared with 10%-15% in past years. While nobody claims that there is one singular cause for the loss of so many bees, most scientists and environmentalists believe it is a combination of:

  • Loss of habitat, due to a variety of factors including pesticide use, mining and drilling, changing temperatures and weather conditions due to climate change that have restricted the area where bees can survive, as well as eradicated some food sources necessary for survival. Additionally, use of herbicides (weed killer) has reduced the available pollen and nectar bees rely on for pollination.
  • A group of chemicals called neonicotinoid pesticides that are proven to harm not only bees, but other insects as well. They accumulate in individual bees and within entire colonies, including the honey that bees feed to infant larvae. Bees that do not die outright, experience sub-lethal systemic effects, development defects, weakness, and loss of orientation. The die-off leaves fewer bees and weaker bees, who must work harder to produce honey in depleted wild habitats. These conditions create the formula for bee colony collapse.

bee-on flower-2.jpgBefore we talk about what is or is not being done, what can be done to reverse these problems, it is important to understand why bees are critical to our lives, why we rely on them for much more than the honey we drizzle over our fruit or toast.  Bees have played a role either by directly pollinating the many vegetables and fruits we eat, or pollinating the food for the animals that we then consume. It is said that between 30% and 90% of the foods we need to stay alive are reliant on bee pollination, either directly or indirectly. I am not sure why such a large gap, but it seems to vary significantly depending on which study is being cited. My guess is it is somewhere midway, or perhaps varies by region, depending on which crops are grown, but it highlights the difficulties of the science. We already have a global food crisis, caused in part by climate change and overpopulation, and we can ill afford a reduction in available food in coming years, as the population of the world continues to increase.

The consequence of a dying bee population impacts man at the highest levels on our food chain, posing an enormously grave threat to human survival. Since no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans commonly take for granted yet require near daily to stay alive, the greatest modern scientist Albert Einstein once prophetically remarked, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.”Global Research, Centre for Research on Globalization 

In fairness, it should be noted that one group of studies reported by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP), significantly downplays the importance of bees in food production, concluding that bees are only responsible for about 7.4% of the world’s agricultural value.  Not being a scientist, I cannot dispute their findings, but their conclusions are at odds with most other scientific studies worldwide.

bees-3Now that we know some of the reasons for the decline in the bee population, and why it matters, it is prudent to look at what is being done to attempt to solve the problem, which will be the focus of Part II of this post.  This topic is too important to take shortcuts, so I have decided to divide it into two parts, thus I can cover more of what the U.S., as well as other countries are (or aren’t) doing to assess and address the potentially devastating problem.  So stay tuned …

I rarely include a source listing with my posts, preferring instead to include a partial source listing through the use of hyperlinks, but some of these are definitely worth the read, and I decided to include one this time, especially in light of those who may question the legitimacy of my sources. This is only a partial listing, but includes the most important/interesting ones:

bees-end

13 thoughts on “A Sticky Wicket Of A Problem … BEES … Or Rather A Lack Of … Part I

  1. Hi Jill.

    May I use some of your writings from this blog entry as an introduction to my new album called “Colony Collapse Disorder” which was inspired by your post? If you’d like a copy when it comes out or even an advanced promotional download, send me a private message and I’ll get you a download link.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never realized how vital they were, either, until I started researching for this piece. This topic needs to be publicized far and wide, and all nations need to participate in conversations and measures that will lead to solutions. Unfortunately, Pruitt in the EPA is likely to be very counter-productive.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Sticky Wicket Of A Problem … BEES … Or Rather A Lack Of … Part II | Filosofa's Word

  3. Dear Jill,

    This subject is so important and thank you for blogging on it. By the way, Entine is executive director of Genetic Literacy Project (GLP), which promotes GMOs and pesticides. It states that it is “funded by grants from non-partisan foundations” but does not disclose which ones, nor whether it receives funding from corporations, trade associations or other agrichemical industry interests.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope the EPA reverse their stupid decision not to ban more pesticides, insecticides etc. As well as doing the bees some good maybe it will give a swift kick in the seat of the pants to Monsanto so that they start behaving better.
    xxx Humongous Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are likely to reverse any and all regulations that cost big businesses money, without regard to the health of the earth and its inhabitants. We should be called the United States of Greed from now on, I think. Hugs!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, this is an extremely important topic and one that gets talked about so little. You also do a nice job in pointing out all the smoking guns. Part of the reason for the lack of movement is an orchestrated effort by agricultural pesticides companies to point the finger elsewhere. The other is the climate change naysayers.

    The dilemma is we cannot wait for after the fact causal analysis and must rely on the building evidence that show correlation and, in some cases, causation.

    Like with any environmental threat, we must act now as later will prove too costly and/ or after the collapses get too detrimental. Thanks for the educational piece. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Keith! Yes, this is one issue that if we wait until it’s too late, it is REALLY too late! In my opinion, cost should not even be an issue. But … my opinion likely does not matter to the CEOs, nor to Pruitt 😀

      Like

  6. This is a serious problem indeed. Our town sprays for mosquitos every Summer and we have noted the absence of any honey bees whatever as well as a noticeable drop-off in the bird population. We suspect the insects are dying and the systemic poisons are getting into the birds who die off as well — assuming they can find any insects to feed upon. The farmers in this region spray their fields regularly and this adds to the problem. Ahhh! Chemicals, what would we do without them?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed! Our apartment complex sprays 2-3 times during the spring/summer. If I see them, I always go out and ask them to NOT spray my yard, as it almost always triggers an asthma attack. Most times they are understanding, but one last year actually sprayed my shoe as I was attempting to ‘stand my ground’! This year, after what I have learned about bees, I will be ever more vigilant!

      Like

I would like to hear your opinion, so please comment if you feel so inclined.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s