The Truth About Bees

Jan 17, 2013 Posted by

Casey Danson

Director, Global Possibilities

by Casey Danson

 bees_flickr_davidnikonvscanon-1

Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables

Many people think of bees simply as a summertime nuisance. But these small and hard-working insects actually make it possible for many of your favorite foods to reach our table. From apples to almonds to the pumpkin in our pumpkin pies, we have bees to thank. Now, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder is causing bee populations to plummet, which means these foods are also at risk. In the United States alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990.

Bees are one of a myriad of other animals, including birds, bats, beetles, and butterflies, called pollinators. Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive.

Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.

Susie Cagle of Grist had this to say:
  Are you sick of hearing about colony collapse? Hey, me too! But I’m guessing the bees are even more fed up at this point.  For the first time, Europe’s food safety agency this week officially labeled the world’s most popular insecticide, imidacloprid, as so dangerous as to be unacceptable for use on crops pollinated by bees, though the body lacks the power to ban the chemical. The report also called into question two other types of neonicotinoid pesticides. All three sound super-evil.

From The Guardian:

[Imidacloprid's] manufacturer, Bayer, claimed the report, released on Wednesday, did not alter existing risk assessments and warned against “over-interpretation of the precautionary principle”. The report comes just months after the UK government dismissed a fast-growing body of evidence of harm to bees as insufficient to justify banning the chemicals. … Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), together with experts from across Europe, concluded on Wednesday that for imidacloprid “only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable” because of exposure through nectar and pollen. Such crops include oil seed rape, corn and sunflowers. EFSA was asked to consider the acute and chronic effects on bee larvae, bee behaviour and the colony as a whole, and the risks posed by sub-lethal doses. But it found a widespread lack of information in many areas and had stated previously that current “simplistic” regulations contained “major weaknesses”.Content goes here

The more we learn about exactly what’s killing all the bees, the more the problem seems fixable, at least in theory. If the E.U. really goes to war with big chemical companies over tiny bees, it could be a game-changer. Meanwhile, the U.S. will be over here, still spraying with abandon.

LET’S HOPE NOT!

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