My six year-old loves honeybees and everything to do with them. When I mentioned to him that many were dying or getting sick and weak and explained why this was happening this was his response.
"Don't people know that we need the earth to survive? I mean, it's the only planet we have to live on. So, if we are doing things to destroy our earth, we are basically destroying ourselves. Why do people do things like that?"
Man, I love this kid. He is so witty, so smart and so perceptive on issues so far beyond his 6 years on this earth! And he's right; it's that simple....if we are doing things that destroy our earth and the living, growing, working organisms on our earth, we are destroying ourselves.
The Need for Bees
In the last few years, I have read several articles on our dwindling population of honeybees and the concern over this issue. In the last few months, I have read and seen a continual flow of articles on this topic.
The concern is growing. Some say this may be the worst year on record for honey production, but honey is not the only issue. Honeybees are needed to pollinate over 95 different fruits and vegetables crops, including almonds, berries, avocados, apples, pumpkins and pears, to name just a few.
Since 2006, honeybee numbers have been closely watched, with beekeepers losing approximately 30 % of their bees a year; however, this winter keepers are reporting a 70 to 90 percent loss. This spells trouble for all of us who eat food.
The Killing Fields
So, what is sickening our honeybees? Well, the buzz word, if you'll pardon the pun, is pesticide, and not just any pesticides, but a certain class.
Scientists have linked this Colony Collapse Disorder to neonicotinoids. Included in this class are clothiandin, thiamethoxam, imidicloprid and sulfoxaflor, which are currently under consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"Neonicotinoids are applied before planting to coat seeds. The pesticide is then taken up through the vascular system of the plant and expressed through the pollen and nectar, which bees rely on for food," according to Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). Apparently, these pesticides linger in the soil affecting the next crop, as well.
It's not just bee populations being destroyed; it's also bats, birds, butterflies, beetles and other small mammals. They too, play a large role in pollinating our plants. According, to North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, some species have seen a 90 percent decline in their numbers just in the past decade.
A couple of weeks ago, four professional beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups filed a lawsuit in federal court against the EPA. In the lawsuit, the groups claim , "the U.S. environmental regulators are failing to protect honeybees and their role in pollinating important food crops, and should immediately suspend use of some toxic insecticides tied to the widespread deaths of the bees." science.ncbnews.com
"Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble," says Paul Tower of PAN. It's also worth noting that in Europe, the European Commission has proposed a ban on neonicotinoids because the European Food Safety Authority found that there is a high risk to the health of the honeybees when this class of pesticide is used.
We all eat food. If our crops fail here and/or abroad because there are no honeybees to pollinate them, then prices go up, food is scarce and we are all adversely affected.
There is an ever mounting pile of crap that leads to companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer and other companies manufacturing pesticides and manipulating seeds and plants. Believe it or not, it was just a few years ago that such pesticides from the neonicotinoids class began being used widespread to grow stronger, disease/pest resistant crops. Unfortunately, this was done at the expense of health of humans and animals. I believe we are only starting to see the repercussions of the use of such strong and harmful chemicals.
So, why should we care about this issue? Because it matters to all of us; that is, all of us who eat food. More to come on this and other food issues. Over and out...