What We Can Learn from The Declining Health of BeesJun 08, 2017
Bees are crucial to our food supply. Approximately one-third of our food relies on bees as pollinators, a service that has been valued at $US 168 billion per year worldwide. In the US, bees contribute more than $15 billion to our crop production, according to the USDA.
Bee populations are in jeopardy
Starting in late 2006, US beekeepers began reporting alarming losses of bee populations, reporting losses of 30-90%. This emerging, and global, phenomenon became known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Further research suggested that these "outbreaks of unexplained colony collapse may have been occurring for 3 or more years," according to the USDA website.
The bee population is still in jeopardy, according to New York Times article, "A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field" published in February 2017. As of the year ending in April 2016, "44% of the overall commercial bee population died. In a typical year before the plague, only 10 percent to 15 percent would have died."
“Over the last five years, I think this small industry could easily have lost $1.2 billion worth of bees,” according to Bret Adee, America's largest beekeeper, whose operation provides more than two billion bees to farmers.
Another noteworthy concern: the diversity of bees is threatened. "Between 2008 and 2013, wild bee diversity in the US dropped by 23%, and a previously common bumblebee species was recently listed as endangered."
What declining bee populations can teach us about our own health
I first learned about Colony Collapse Disorder while writing and researching my book A to Z of D-Toxing. Through my research, I realized the contributing factors of alarming health trends with humans (both kids and adults worldwide). These factors, as summarized below in Figure #03 from my book A to Z of D-Toxing, include exposure to unprecedented biological stressors. The confluence of these factors with our genetics have made us more vulnerable to various things, and undermine human development and immunity from in utero.
Something similar is happening with the bees. Theories about the causes of CCD are similar: Pesticide use can be both toxic to bees and undermine their immunity so that they are more prone to viruses, bacteria, etc.; decreasing diversity of plants and flowers have also decreased habitat and food options for bees; a less nutritious diet has also undermined bees' immunity; and bees work more than ever as humans migrate beehives to help pollinate crops.
What you can do to help
A marine biologist by trade, Laura Klahre, founder of Blossom Meadow, is a beekeeper in the North Fork of Eastern Long Island. After having a dream in 1997 that she was a beekeeper, she started beekeeping with one beehive, which eventually grew to 100 beehives. Below is a Ted talk that Laura presented.
During August 2016, she was kind enough to enlighten me on the important role of bees. For tips from Laura on what you can do to help bees and other pollinators this spring and summer, click on this link to see videos of my visit with her and to listen to my podcast with Laura: Sophia's Visit with beekeeper Laura Klahre.
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