Save the Bees


Mary LewisI have a secret. I used to be terrified of insects that sting.

When I was a small child, I was stung by a bumblebee, and it scared me. To tell the truth, I’ve never been stung since, and I don’t actually remember what it felt like. I still have very little appreciation for hornets and wasps, but I suppose they have a job to do, too. These days, if a bee finds its way into my house, I try to remove it without injuring or killing it. I try to coax the bee into a jar and then take it outside and set it free.

My perspective changed a few years ago after writing an article about bumblebees. Through my research, I learned how important bees are to the world. If the bees die, so do we. And the bees are dying.

According to an article on ABCNews, there was a nearly 40% decline in the honeybee population last winter. Bee colonies have been disappearing over the past 15 years, in what is known as "colony collapse disorder." The main factors affecting the bees are pests and disease, lack of forage and nutrition, and incidental pesticide exposure.

If you talk with beekeepers, they’ll tell you there has always been hive loss, usually over the winter. Some loss is expected, but many beekeepers are losing their bee colonies to hive beetles and varroa mites.

Honeybees are critical for the pollination of flowers, fruits and vegetables – without plants, there is no food. People jokingly refer to plants as “our food’s food,” but in this case it’s no laughing matter. Without the pollinators, there is no food for animals to eat, so not only would there be no fruits and vegetables, there would be no beef, chicken, or pork. Approximately 1 in 3 bites of the food we eat every day relies on honeybee pollination to some degree. The global food supply is impacted due to the huge role that honeybees play in North American agriculture. North America is one of the largest food exporting regions of the world.

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