Missing Bees and the Loss of Food Biodiversity

I’ll start right off, I’m terrified of bees. Always have been, and probably always will be. I’m not biased against bees, though, I’m scared of anything with more than four legs, but bees have always held a special place in my fearful heart due to their stingers and loud buzzing. Despite this, I am really worried about the disappearance of bees, and am now even more so after having watched The Vanishing of the Bees documentary.

Bees as a community are really fascinating. Each bee has a different job, and they are all very dedicated workers. In a more psychological sense, I’ve always found bees to be very interesting, as they have such a strong devotion to their Queen Bee and the jobs that they do. Some bees guard the hive while others venture off to pollinate and collect nectar. Bees can teach us a lot about efficiency and business (here’s an article I read a while back about that subject, if anyone’s interested: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-wisdom-bees/201005/what-would-bee-do-in-todays-workplace )

Anyway, while I was aware of the bee disappearance, I had no idea bees were vanishing at such an alarming rate. Colony Collapse Disorder has really puzzling symptoms that I can’t make any sense of. It isn’t necessarily that the bees are dying, but that the bees just disappear without a trace. No dead bees. That’s crazy. Maybe they’re being abducted by aliens.

But the issue is so immense that we’re forced to ship bees overseas in order to ensure that our food is pollinated. I had no idea there could be such a shortage of bees that we would have to borrow some from Australia. As someone who tends to see bees as scary pests, it seemed impossible to me that they’re weren’t enough of them, but it’s abundantly clear to me now that something needs to be done about it. Scientists still don’t seem to have a clear cut answer as to why the bees have disappeared without a trace, but at least they’ve managed to narrow it down and rule out a lot of potential causes.

What was interesting was how connected the issue with bees is to what we were discussing in our last two classes about food biodiversity. Part of the reason our food industry is becoming so toxic is because of the use of pesticides and the business of monoculture, and these things are also harming bee populations. The chemicals in pesticides can cause viruses in bees, and monoculture doesn’t allow enough year-round diversity for bee populations to survive in one place. Without bees, our fruits and vegetables can’t grow, which leads farmers to use more chemical solutions, which harms the bees, and the cycle could go on and on.

Theoretically, we could probably fix this if we stop monocultures, remove the use of pesticides, discourage over consumption, eat locally, plant flowers, and keep a beehive in everyone’s back yard. It would be a huge shift, to eliminate farms that mass produce one kind of product and thereby destroy year-round convienence, but there doesn’t seem to be any other sure-fire way of protecting the bees and our entire food source. However, I think some of these things are manageable. If you have a backyard or a balcony, keep a little garden. A friend of mine used to have a beehive in her backyard (and of course I was scared to go to her house because of this), but I think it would be possible to convince people to keep bees in that way, and it would be a big help.

Disappearing-Bees-Infographic

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