• Hana Kovac

A World Without Bees

Have you ever wondered where your fruits and veggies come from? Yes, you buy them (hopefully) from your farmer on the market. But how does a small seed become a tomato? We all know that a seed needs good soil, water and sun to grow. And...bees. Bees and humans went through a lot together. Since Palaeolithic times people known as honey hunters climbed trees to harvest this liquid gold. Egyptians used honey as medicine and regarded it as a gift from Gods. Greeks and Romans honoured honey as well. But how important are bees in farming today?

One can argue that more than a half of food grown worldwide does not require animal pollination. Wheat, rice, and corn require no help from bees. They either self-pollinate or get help from the wind. If honeybees would disappear, humans would probably not go extinct. However, our diets would suffer tremendously. We would have less variety, and the cost of some products would skyrocket. Almond trees must be pollinized by bees and during very short period of time. So without bees almonds simply wouldn’t exist. Apples, avocados, onions, blueberries and cranberries rely heavily on bees for pollination. So without bees, humanity would survive, but our meals would become dull.

From the World War II, half of the bee population died in United States. Bees are dying in other countries as well. Since 1985, 25 % of bee population died in Europe alone {1}. As a matter of fact, bees are an indicator of environmental quality, so when bees are dying, something in the environment doesn't work. Many farmers must import bees from other countries and hives are often transported from Australia to US.

So why are the bees dying?

Even if the research continues, it becomes more and more clear, that bees are dying due to pesticides, more concretely the so called neonicotinoid pesticides produced by companies as Syngenta, BASF and Bayer. Bees are exposed to them via multiple pathways, including through the plant itself, air (dust from spraying) and even more importantly soil and water. In fact, neonicotinoid pesticides have been proven to impair many essential eco-functions.

What can YOU do to save bees

1. Support ecological farming. Buy organic fruit and vegetables whenever possible or grow your own without using pesticides.

2. Find your local beekeeper and buy local honey. Buying organic honey is tricky - bee can fly 3 km from a hive so only if there is no conventional farming field in a 3 km distance from the hive, honey can be called organic. If you buy honey in a store, check the label. Often, lactose syrup or high fructose corn syrup from china is sold as honey. Bear in mind - real honey is not cheap and health does not have a price.

3. If you have a garden, grow some bee loving plants such as crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, cosmos, Echinacea or leave a part of your lawn uncut.

{1} http://sos-bees.org/situation/

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