As much as 70 percent of the honeybees in colder parts of the country did not survive the harsh winter in 2013, and the forecast is not looking any warmer this year. The 2013 winter losses follow record losses of the little pollinators due to colony collapse disorder, a condition in which entire hives disappear and/or die. Honeybees are responsible for directly pollinating about 70 percent of the food supply.
Bees have been dying in record numbers since 2005. Study after study has been done to figure out why the pollinators are perishing and what causes Colony Collapse Disorder – CCD. Even though the best brains from around the globe are on the case, no definitive result has yet been accepted by the scientific world, the FDA, or the EPA. Many feel, and cite study statistics, the GMO crops and chemical herbicides and pesticides are to blame.
Honeybees typically gather closely around the queen bee and feed off of honey stored in the hive throughout the winter. When the winter is particularly harsh and long, some bees are forced to leave the cluster to look for food – and never return. Neonicotinoids are often blamed for a nervous system disorder which prevents the bees from being able to navigate properly and find their hives.
The California drought also caused a significant loss of honeybees in the state which can usually be counted upon to resupply beekeepers in the spring. Many Iowa beekeepers were forced to go to the extra expense or ordering replacement honeybees from Georgia due to the lack of stock in California – that expense was passed onto consumers browsing the grocery store aisles.
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready has become the poster child for the organic anti-GMO and save the honeybees movement. Cross pollination and feed used to sustain livestock we also consumer if further impacted by the decline of the honeybee. If the bees become extinct, the human race will not be far behind.
If the Buffalo snow November storm is any indication of the type of weather we should expect this year, food prices will likely rise once again in the spring. Power outages due to winter storms could me families are trapped in their homes for extended periods of time. Long-term food storage could mean the difference between life and death in such a scenario.
Whole Foods Market recently embarked upon a “Give bees a chance” educational promotion to highlight the ongoing honeybee decline. The chain is hosting events in stores June 21 to alert shoppers to exactly how the dairy aisle would look if honeybees no longer existed.
Excerpt from the Whole Foods release about the “Give bees a chance” project and the Human Bee-In event:
“Imagine a world with no milk, yogurt, or butter. No cheese? No chance. Without pollinators, the dairy aisle would be a lot less plentiful. That’s why the Whole Foods Market Lynnfield store in Massachusetts demonstrated to shoppers how many of their dairy department favorites would cease to exist without bees. One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators, and pollinator populations are facing massive declines.”
After taking a long hard look at the dairy aisle, Whole Foods staffers found that without honeybees most fruit-flavored yogurts would no longer be stocked on the shelves. The company also discovered that honeybees are responsible for the chocolate which is necessary to make the childhood favorite, chocolate milk.
As those whole follow the potentially devastating Colony Collapse Disorder issue closely already known, without the tiny pollinators, the plants which livestock requires for grazing would be gone – and so would the cheese we all love on our pizzas and mixed in with macaroni, and numerous other dishes consumed daily in the United States. According to the Whole Foods Market review, without honeybee pollination of clover and alfalfa a 50 percent reduction in all milk-based products would also likely occur. Almond milk and fruit juices would also be among the items to disappear from grocery stores in honeybees are wiped out by biotech products, GMO crops, the nasty little varroa mite, or any other reason that has been touted for CCD by notable experts.
In 2013, Whole Foods engaged in a similar bee education project. While working on that endeavor the store found that 52 percent of products typically found in the product mixes aisle is also dependent upon pollination by bees. According to the studies reviewed during the experiment, about 85 percent of all the plant species on Earth either require or “strongly benefit” from pollination by insects.
Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Program Assistant Director Eric Mader had this to say about honeybees:
“Despite the critical role they play in sustaining our world, the situation for pollinators continues to be difficult. Whether we are looking at honeybee declines, the massive downturn in monarch butterfly populations, or the risk of extinction now facing many bumblebee species, this is an incredibly tough time for pollinators. The stand that Whole Foods Market is taking to bring more attention to our pollinators should inspire all of us to speak out for these creatures, and to take action. We don’t always notice it when walking down a grocery aisle, but pollinators are a critical link in our food system, some of the most nutritious parts of our diet. Our organization is working with farmers nationwide to help them create wildflower habitat on field edges and to adopt less pesticide-intensive practices. Even on a small scale, these simple strategies can tip the balance back in favor of our bees.”
A picture (or a video) is supposedly worth a thousand words. If the astounding images and videos created by Whole Foods Market as a part of the Human Bee-In follow the old adage, perhaps more than a minority of Americans will being thinking, talking, and acting to save, the honeybees. The videos and images highlighting what a restaurant and a summer picnic would look like if honeybees became extinct is garnering a lot of attention on social media websites.
The store pulled 237 of 453 products from their store aisle to illustrate how many food items would no longer exist without bee pollination.
Just a few of the food varieties which would no longer exist without bee pollination:
• Summer squash
• Green onions
• Bok choy
• Broccoli rabe
• Mustard greens