That’s just one example of how the ecological balance can be interrupted. Why is this happening? Several factors have been identified, including:
- Pesticides and insecticides
- Genetically modified crops
- Malnutrition of the bee population
- Viruses and fungi
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used to feed bees in managed hives
One poignant example of the pesticide problem comes with a lawsuit filed by The German Coalition against Bayer Dangers against Werner Wenning, chairman of the Bayer Board of Management, after losing thousands of hives due to poisoning by the pesticide clothianidin. Bayer was accused of marketing dangerous pesticides that allegedly caused the mass death of bees all over the world. In fact, apple orchards require at least one bee colony for every acre to be adequately pollinated. So, unless this devastating trend is reversed, the world could be in for some major food shortages.
Even more alarming may be the rate at which wild bees are dropping from sight, particularly regarding crop yields, according to a worldwide study.6 Coffee, onions, almonds, tomatoes and strawberries were among 40 fruits and vegetables in 600 fields examined by scientists to determine which would win the pollination race. The report returned that wild bees were twice as effective as honey bees in this endeavor.7
Scientists studied the pollination of more than 40 crops in 600 fields across every populated continent and found wild pollinators were twice as effective as honey bees in producing seeds and fruit on crops including oilseed rape, coffee, onions, almonds, tomatoes and strawberries. Furthermore, trucking in managed honey bee hives did not replace wild pollination when that was lost, but only added to the pollination that took place.8
One of every three bites of food you eat depends on the honey bee. They pollinate at least 130 different crops in the US alone, including fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. That bees can actually sense and respond to electrical fields emitted by flowering plants is remarkable, says bee biologist and author Mark Winston from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. He adds:
“[B]ees perceive the world around them, and it adds another wonderful story that continues to deepen our understanding the co-evolved relationship between bees and flowers.”
Only a change in the status quo will cause a turnaround of this tragic situation that threatens not only bees all over the world, but the world’s entire, increasingly unsustainable food system.