The Great Outdoors: Where Have All The Bees Gone?
What is the fastest way to get our attention? Talk about food. Or in this case, talk about how our food, and our entire agriculture industry, is in danger. How is this possible? Because bees are dying at an alarming rate. Though we often picture them as annoying insects buzzing around when we’re trying to enjoy our afternoon on the porch, bees are vital to our way of life. We recently read an article in our beloved Garden & Gun magazine about why we need a world full of bees. A particularly surprising fact is that one in every three bites we eat is pollinated by bees. That means with bees we’re not just getting honey but fruits and vegetables. Here’s another important fact about our food; only bees can do this pollination. Not humans, not science, not the wind. This information makes the recent phenomena of Colony Collapse Disorder even more troubling. The article in Garden & Gun further explains CCD:
“Beekeepers go out to their hives and find that their bees have disappeared. Wandered off to die scattered, where their bodies are hard to find. When little autopsies are possible, they do not lead to definite conclusions. Maybe it’s the mites that get on bees, maybe it’s the chemicals employed to kill the mites. Maybe it’s the stress on bees from being loaded into trucks and dragged all over the country to service blueberries in Maine and almonds in California.”
Bees have fallen into the scary world of our current agribusiness, being fed high fructose corn syrup and pollen substitute to try and cheapen/speed up their process. This is another byproduct of the unnatural, corner-cutting process our modern agriculture industry has adopted. Just recently Rolling Stone did a very in-depth article about pesticides playing a possible roll in Colony Collapse Disorder, pointing to a relatively new class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics. This brings up big questions concerning massive agriculture businesses and the EPA. Not a great sign when this issue is urgent and we can't waste any more time in finding the solution to our rapid bee loss.
So what can we do? We often throw the word "local" around on this site. This can mean locally made products or purchasing from local vendors. Ever since becoming aware of CCD we have made an effort to buy local honey from nearby, small-scale companies (usually at farmer's markets). This honey isn't made with bees that are transported across the country. These bees aren't fed pollen subsititue. This honey is made the old-fashioned way. You can also plant bee-friendly plants in your garden (lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, honeysuckle, poppies, sunflowers, marigolds to name a few) or buy organic (these plants are grown without pesticides). But the easiest action to take? Share these linked articles with friends and family. Agriculture contributes approximately $72.5 billion annually to Georgia's economy. That means we aren't only losing honey with the curious case of the missing bees, we're losing jobs. The easiest way to save a vital part of our environment is to make everyone aware of the severity of the issue. Save the bees, save the food. That's nothing to swat at.