Bees are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat, including apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, citrus crops, cranberries, cucumber, kiwis and melons … just to name a few. What’s more? An estimated 80 percent of food in grocery stores is made possible thanks to our hardworking friends. Bees might be small, but they certainly play a very large role in our global food system.
Yet for the past fifteen years, bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate, mostly due to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides which are now in widespread use around the globe. The U.S. bee population has declined steadily by 30 percent each year for the past decade alone. While there have been many theories surrounding why bee populations are dropping, pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, have been identified as the major culprit.
Neonicotinoid pesticides, the most commonly used pesticides, are so effective because they target insect’s nervous systems. Unfortunately, they harm bees just as readily as they do “pests” that hinder crop yields. It is widely believed that these chemicals are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder, or mass bee deaths. Not only do they cause death, but a slew of other damaging affects; for example, bees often lose their ability to discern their surroundings and experience memory loss.
To put into context how our pesticide use impacts these tiny insects, consider this: the average honeybee is 0.4 to 0.6 inches long, and yet according to a recent study from the Journal of Chromatography A found that the typical bee has 57 different pesticides in their systems! That’s 57 reasons why we need to act now.
If it hasn’t become clear already, we ought to start paying attention to how we’re treating these industrious insects, lest we lose them – and our food supply – forever.
What are these consumer choices, you might ask? Well, it begins with choosing organic. By choosing organic, we’re sending a message to farmers and agricultural companies that we will not stand for pesticide-laden produce. Not only for our health but also for the health of the ever-vital, ever-declining bee population.
But consumers aren’t the only ones who need to make a change. It’s up to the farming systems to evolve to make sure that we don’t witness the destruction of the entire bee population within our lifetime.
Aside from choosing organic produce, check out these articles to learn how you can save the bees today!
Lead Image Source: USGS/Flickr