Bee the Change

As spring slowly approaches, so does the thought of swatting away flies, mosquitoes, and other pests. You also have to start watching out for bees. I, myself, managed to avoid being stung by a bee until the age of eleven. Turns out, that isn’t uncommon. Americans are now 60% less likely to be stung by a bee than they were in 1947. Why is this?

According to a study by US National Agricultural Statistics, the honey bee population has dropped from 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2008. The decline hasn’t slowed since 2008, either. Ohio State conducted a study that showed honey bee colony loss rates of about 30% per winter, per commercial beekeepers. We are losing record amounts of bees. What causes a rapid decrease like this?

Widespread use of bee-killing pesticides is the top reason for their sudden deaths. They also suffer from a lack of biodiversity and climate change. The pesticides appear to have the most direct affects on the bee population, but there are many beekeepers reporting deaths of large numbers of bees with no explanation. Why is this important?

As you probably already know, bees are pollinators. Pollinators account for a third of all of the world’s food. If the bee population continues this downward spiral, our food production is in big trouble. If humans had to perform the pollination work of the bees, it would cost us about $265 billion, annually. You would think that, with that amount of money on the line, we would be more concerned about the bee crisis. How do we help fix this?

On a singular level, you can buy local, organic foods. Other than that, all you can do is support the development of environment-safe pesticides and movement towards an ecological farm system. And there are always petitions to be signed.

There are too many global issues to count, too many environmental concerns to keep track of, and too many stressors in daily life. Pick an issue or two, and do your part to make the world better.