Since the late 1990s, scientists have been observing a mysterious disappearance of bees including bumblebees and commercial honeybees across the globe. (1)
But why should we care?
Bees play a very vital role in our ecosystems. Bees do more for our food than just make honey: a third of all of our food is dependent upon their pollinating processes (these include fruit, vegetables, vegetable oils and spices). While manual pollination of these foods by humans is possible, it is extremely hard, inefficient and expensive compared to the natural process in which bees pollinate. (1)
There are many theories as to why the population of bees is declining around the world. Most scientists agree that the use of pesticides is to blame for the weakening of bees’ immune systems. Additionally, many believe that their natural habitats of wildflower meadows are being destroyed by human traffic and industrialization. (2)
The most important thing to know is that everyone can do something to help save the bees. Here are some simple ways YOU can make a difference:
1. Plant native wildflowers and flowering shrubs such as berries in your backyard. These are great food sources for bees and will allow the pollinator population to thrive. (1)
2. Don’t mow more of your lawn than is necessary. Small backyard blooms such as clover and dandelions are critical to the survival of our backyard pollinator friends. (2)
3. Purchase organic cotton. Cotton is one crop that is highest ranking in pesticide usage, so this is a way to make sure that bees were not endangered in the production of this fabric. (2)
4. Support current bills that ban or limit the use of pesticides or that protect pollinators in other ways. (1)
5. Some big-business farms transport bees to pollinate their vegetables for one season and let them die immediately afterwards. (3) To combat this, buy local produce and honey from farmers and beekeepers that care about their bees.
To learn more about the decline of the bee population and what you can do to help, visit http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/sustainable-agriculture/save-the-bees/ .