Bees have been stated as the most important living species on the planet at the annual Earthwatch Debate.
The bee population is declining rapidly, meaning the planet’s ecosystem, and therefore human life, is in big trouble.
There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world.
Most of them hide in the ground and stems of plants.
Bee colonies form a collective consciousness, a Super-Organism.
They have no leader, yet they are able to coordinate themselves, divide labor and communicate to each other.
1 in 3 mouthfuls of our diet is thanks to bees.
75% of the food crops that produce the seeds and fruits we consume are influenced by pollination.
Over 20 bio-active substances have been found in bee venom, including anti-inflammatory, antiarthritis, anti-nociceptive, neuroprotective, anti-tumoral, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic and anti-rheumatic properties.
* The relationship between bee venom and illness is complex.
Bee venom is not without health risks and is known to cause inflammation when stung.
Bees are dying because of a flowerless landscape and toxic food system.
The world’s population of bees is in decline. Rapidly.
43% of bee colonies in the US died out in 2015 (Natural Resources Defense Council).
Some regions in the world are already having to hand pollinate fruits and crops with paintbrushes dipped in pollen to hand pollinate plants. This could soon form a popular new job worldwide. But even then, we wont see as much of the fruits and veg we are used to enjoying, as the pollination process is not that simple different methods are needed for certain crops.
Say bye to coffee, cocoa, almonds, tomatoes, apples and many more, says the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. And honey of course.
Pesticide Use Kills Bees
As soon as corn fields are treated with pesticides, the wind carries these toxins to bee populations.
This is one reason why bee colonies are collapsing.
Pesticide industry specialists in the US assessed this and said everything was okay, thinking the bees would repopulate. But they didn’t.
Researchers from Penstate University, found that every batch of pollen collected from honey bees contained at least 6 detectable pesticides.
We are making bees sick…
Neonicotinoid insecticides are making headlines.
This insecticide moves through a plant, so that when an insect takes a bite of the plant, it dies. If these are applied in high concentrations, they get into pollen and spread to bees, resulting in the bees death.
If a bee consumes a lower dose, the bee becomes intoxicated and can’t find it’s way home. Imagine how you’d feel if your drink got spiked while you were alone somewhere far from home.
Because we’re making the bees ill, they find it hard to fight back against viruses and Veroamites. Veroamites are vampire ticks that suck the blood of bees. This weakens bees and acts as a vector to transmit illnesses throughout a colony. These ticks are spreading throughout the world rapidly.
Mushroom For Improvement
Bees know that fungi can boost the immune system of a hive.
Bees collect resins from plants and fungi, take them back to their nest and cement them into the nest architecture as a natural antibiotic to protect their community.
We used the health benefits of fungi for modern antibiotics.
Paul Stamets (leading mycologist) noticed that in his garden, bees were always sipping exudate from fungi’s mycelium, but he wasn’t sure why at first.
He has been collecting research to show this relationship, which formed a theory about bee colony collapse.
The underlying theme with all things bad for bees, was a lack of resilience. This is through pesticides, climate change, Veroamites and habitat loss.
Stamets believes that the bees need nutritional support from the fungi to keep the hives alive and keep the bees immune systems healthy.
Over the last 50 years we’ve experienced a huge loss of habitat for beneficial fungi.
In 2014, Paul Stamets teamed up with the head of a Molecular Systematics Laboratory, Dr. Steve Sheppard. They’re trying see if they can restore the fungi-bee relationship to prevent colony collapse. There is some hope, they’re finding that some mushroom extracts can reduce viral burden and increase a worker bee’s lifespan for a more productive and resilient hive, but will it be too late?
Dr. Jonathan Lundgren (Agroecologist) says there’s not enough diversity in the landscape:
“You can’t tell the earth what to do, but we are trying to, through irresponsible and improper farming techniques.
The fact we have to keep using pesticides for our crops, proves how unhealthy our soil is….
We’re losing the healthy biology of our soil. We need serious food production reforms.
If we don’t change, our soil will die and won’t produce crops any more.”
This would be the downfall of civilization.
The ‘Environmental Protection Agency’s’ approach is that people should sue them if they don’t like what they are doing... But people can’t afford to do this.
Human kind hangs in the balance. The biggest concern is that we will simply react when it is too late.
What You Can Do
PLANT NATIVE FLOWERS AND GROW VEG
Plant native flowers and plants with natural fertilisers (even in pots outside your door). Get a vegetable patch. Consider renting an allotment if you don’t have a garden. Campaign to have these planted in your community without the use of pesticides.
If you live in a small community, pioneer a ‘bee safe’ community. Get involved with local gardening projects. Look into bee keeping or support your local bee keepers.
Put pressure on your government and local councils to stop supporting the toxic agricultural status quo. Ask your government to ban neonicotinoids.
Never kill a bee. Being stung is unlikely and your fear is far less important than the life of your bee friend. If you have an infestation of bees, call a bee keeper, not an exterminator. Bee keepers can re-home them.
Buy more organic food. It can be impractical and expensive for some, but a little is better than none.
You will reduce your funding towards toxic businesses who continue to kill humanities greatest allies.