“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”.

Bug science fair was lame.  I had the knowledge of bugs: this is that, this belong to this species, yada yada….  But get to the point already, what are they really there for?!?  Do they have a purpose, or simply exist to irritate me?  What is unfortunate is missing the point that these “pests” have on this planet earth.

My kids know more about bees from the “Bee Movie” than I have collected in time.  Embarrassingly, this is where I got the ” Oh…I have never thought about that before” feeling…I am sure this is elementary thinking to you- but my eyes have been opened to my ignorance of this world and the things in it- and I am examining my own lack of knowledge. One thing I have always observed and appreciated about this insect species: their encoded sense of duty and loyalty.  If a little ant can carry 20 times its weight, what can I achieve?

Earth is not just a pretty picture that I happen to live in.  That thinking has one thing in mind: myself.  Against popular belief my day- to- day choices affect many things and possibly future generations.  I can do with “it” as I please attitude brings suffering.  I am to treat the world, and its inhabitants with care.  Now am I going to cry if I slap a mosquito sucking my blood- no. That’s a little fair in my opinion.  The memory of the  Hawaii “Cane Spider” running for my feet definitely still creeps me out…there is more to the picture than the fear of them.

Even though the news is out there, many people are not aware of the Colony Collapse Disorder.  The cause is still not completely known: Some factors adding to the disorder are: pesticide exposure, environmental and nutritional stresses,  pathogens and a virus which attacks bee’s immune systems, said Keith Delaplane (entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)  He is the national director of the $4.1 million Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agriculture Project. Funded by the USDA,  U.S. honeybee scientists and educators are diligently researching reversing the honeybee decline.

With all this bee killing aside,  1 out of 3 foods we consume are pollinated by animals, mainly bees. Millions have been spent on bees.  The juiciest fruits like peaches and tasty almonds are in the hands of animal pollination. And don’t forget: nuts, melons and berries, citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, avocados, cucumbers, coconuts, tomatoes and broad beans, coffee and cocoa. Bees are not the only pollinators: to name a few: butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, some flies, some wasps, and nectar feeding bats- all pollinate flowers.

For those who only know the word “pollination” at face value (like me):

Pollination needs to happen in order for fertilization to occur and without it there would be no seeds.  But there are a small percentage of plants that self pollinate.  This give and take relationship seems altruistic, although neither flower or bee care about each other’s need.  The bee is trying to get nectar and/or pollen to fulfill his job: meet job quotas for energy and have babies.  And flowers need them to produce seeds.  Pollinators service the need of the plant, and in return  are rewarded with food for their family.

“Bees are important for everything from the food that we eat — almonds, fruit and other crops — to certain medicines and even beverages,” Spevak said (Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates at the St. Louis Zoo.)

Mike Arduser, natural history biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, helps to keep track of insects, and thinks that bees are getting a lot of spotlight.  “They’re in the public eye, because they’re so interconnected with human life. There’s been a little bit of media exaggeration, but there has been a real concern,” said Arduser, referring to stories about hive collapse.

His concern is humans using pesticides in gardening and agriculture.  Pesticides make it harder for bees to complete their job.  Pesticides also affect other species, including Homo Sapiens.  Spevak thinks that eliminating pesticides in your own yard is easy.  He uses a water hose.  According to the U.S. Forest Service’s website, water is a natural pollinator helping pollen float on top of the water to the plant.  “The risks of using pesticides outweigh the bad outcomes. It’s like someone taking an antibiotic, you can take it once and be fine, but everyday” and it become ineffective, Arduser said.

Three practical things I have learned about insects:

  1. They are vital to humankind.
  2. They don’t like pesticides.
  3. Even though they are without emotion, insects have a purpose.





4 thoughts on ““If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”.

  1. Pingback: Colony collapse disorder is threatening $83 billion in crops worldwide | The Road Not Taken

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