In a recent documentary about the demise of honey bee colonies, the finger has been pointed at the large scale use of systemic pesticides in large agribusiness farms.
In Vanishing of the Bees, the emergence of Colony Collapse Disease (CCD) is described, along with research conducted in Europe to finally discover why bees are disappearing in the United States and around the world.
Little Bee, Big Impact
Bees and their pollinating powers are the foundation of the food chain. Healthy bees reflect a sustainable planet, which is good for humans. The catastrophe of CCD is that it is one of the leading indicators that humans have potentially destroyed sustainable food sources. CCD is telling us many of our current approaches to farming are not working, since they are not supporting the health of bee colonies.
Bees are one of the more effective ways to pollinate fruits and vegetables. Without them, farms would find it difficult to produce many of the products we enjoy, including apples, oranges, almonds, blueberries and many more. Without the little bee, we would be limited to a scant few crops, such as oats and wheat. To state it baldly, we need bees to feed ourselves and the world.
During the past several decades, honey bees have become one of the major ways that large scale farming operations pollinate their crops. Prior to World War 2, farms were diverse. They did not grow just one crop. They grew several different crops on one farm. This provided native bees with ample food in the form of pollen to feed their hives while pollinating the crops at the same time.
After World War 2, farming trends changed and farmers began to plant mono-crops on their farms. Instead of farming apples, corn, squash and beans on one farm, the farmer would plant vast fields of corn alone. As a result, it became necessary for farmers to ship in bees from around the country for adequate pollenation and crop survival.
Unfortunately for the bees, shipping them across the country means that they do not have the ability to naturally forage for food during transportation. Instead, they are fed a steady diet of high fructose corn syrup during their trip.
As is well-known, most high fructose corn syrup is created from GMO corn. Scientists in Europe have studied the impact of GMO HFCS on bees and have discovered that the synthetic food compromises bee immune systems, making them vulnerable to infections and parasites. With multiple generations of bees being exposed to fake food, the equivalent of being fed a diet of Twinkies and soda on multiple trips during the pollination season, it is no wonder that bees are dying off.
The change in farming practices in the past 50 years is multifaceted. However, the impact on bee colonies is one of the most alarming. Without bees, our food system cannot be sustained. If you believe bees are important, support organic farmers with diverse crops. Buy seasonal produce from local farmers. Eating a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables reduces your exposure to pesticides and potential body toxins. By supporting the bees, you are supporting your own health.
Can you think of other ways to support the bees? Let us know in your comments!
– The Alternative Daily