I will not make any more references to Futurama in this post. That’s not a promise.
So, in conjunction with the film we watched, The Vanishing of the Bees, I wanted to look up what kinds of foods honey bees pollinate, as it didn’t appear that they help pollinate corn and wheat (which seems dangerous in way, as there is enough corn and wheat in western diets and we don’t need to lose the supplies of the other vegetables we have).
Here’s a simple list compiled on Wikipedia of these foods, and as you can see each plant species has its insect counterpart, which is an amazing statement to the symbiotic relationships in nature and how easily it could messed up a whole ecosystem if one part of it was removed or lost, such as the honey bee. You can also note from this list the variety of the foods listed here and how many different places they come from—and the honey bee still is a major pollinator for all of them.
Here is a related scenario: the midge is a small South American insect that is responsible for pollinating cacao trees. Midges live and breed in bromeliads and the marshy areas of the rainforest. Loss of these habitats and of the fragile bromeliad ecosystems wouldn’t immediately effect the cacao trees, but without the midge to pollinate their flowers, the trees will never produce cacao beans, which is bad for the plants and the ecosystem but also means for us no more chocolate or coffee. Then we would destroy ourself as a society.
Without honey bees, this same scenario could happen to every food item on that list, which includes such staples as almonds, watermelon, carrots, apples, cherries, pears, etc. etc. I think what we stand to lose by losing the honey bee is clear, the question is will it be stopped and is it possible to retool our farming to work in a symbiotic relationship to the bee? I think so, but it will take a lot of time and work for us to change the farming system that’s come to such prominence in the United States and the dedication of a lot of bee lovers and people who eat food.