In the central California area near where I live, they grow 80 percent of the world’s almond crop on 60 million almond trees. These trees won’t produce nuts unless honeybees are there to pollinate them, so to get the job done, every spring California almond growers rent beehives that are shipped by truck from out of state. Last year California almond growers rented a million beehives from as far away as Florida. That’s a million hives. The number of bees in all those hives numbered in the billions. It typically takes nearly half the bee population of the entire united states just to pollinate California’s almond trees.
This year there was a glitch.
Growers are struggling to find enough bees to pollinate the crops because honeybees are now vanishing at an alarming rate. It has not been unusual these past months for a beekeeper to wake up and find 70-80 percent of his hives empty. This leaves beekeepers without a sufficient number of bees to meet the needs of farmers and growers in their own home states, let alone have enough surplus to send to California. Adee Honey Farms of South Dakota, for example, had planned to send 13,000 hives to California last month, but found they only had 3,000 hives that were viable. 
Montana Beekeeper Bill Dahle of Big Sky Honey reported,”…about the first of September, they started to fall on their face, to die like crazy. We’ve been doing this 30 years, and we’ve never experienced this kind of loss before.”
Beekeepers first began noticing bees were disappearing back in 2006 and no one could figure out why. Dave Hackenberg of Florida was the first beekeeper to report his bees had vanished. He had gone out to check his hives one morning and found the hives empty. “They weren’t dead,” he said, “they were just gone.” 
Almonds are not the only crop affected by the bee shortage, of course. Most fruits, nuts, and vegetables can’t be produced without bees. If suddenly all the honeybees were gone, more than 90 foods we take for granted would cease to grow. The result would be famine. What few crops left would be mostly grains and cereals, and certainly not enough of those to feed everyone.
Many beekeepers and entomologists are convinced the mystery of the vanishing bees can be traced to pesticides that came into heavy use the same time beekeepers began noticing their bees were vanishing. These neo-nicotinoids, as the name implies, are chemically related to nicotine. Seeds are coated with the pesticide prior to planting, and as the plant grows, the chemicals are absorbed and transported throughout the plant’s vascular tissue, effectively embedding the insecticide within the plant itself.
Insecticides are designed to kill insects, and bees are insects. After a bee comes in contact with a plant, the poisons are carried back to the hive with the pollen. The result is predictably disastrous.
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson of California Minnesota Honey Farms told Associated Press. “It’s like giving bees AIDS. Their immune systems are down and all the pathogens and viruses become virulent. So the bees succumb much more readily.” 
On March 21, a lawsuit was filed against the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to halt the use of these insecticides before it’s too late.  That’s a good first step, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Researchers analyzing samples taken from hives in 2008 found 46 different pesticides in hives across the USA,  and the efforts some pesticide manufacturers will employ to bury dissent should not be underestimated. As my colleague Vanessa Myers documented in this space last week with The Pitfalls of the Monsanto Protection Act, Monsanto managed to slip a rider into the Appropriations Act that will protect Monsanto from legal challenges for the time being.
That rider had nothing to do with the purpose of the act, but Monsanto executives have friends in congress, and they knew the other members would pass the bill without reading it. (Monsanto manufactures the adhesive used to bind pesticides to seeds, and the company also claims patents on many crop seeds used today.)
Even if all the bees don’t disappear, the fact that a good number of them are dying off right now portends fewer crops this year and next, and that means those crops that do make it through will cost more than they otherwise would have. Combine that scenario with the real possibility of continuing droughts, natural disasters, and the devaluation of the dollar, and we could be looking at a future when food prices become almost prohibitively expensive.
This is the time to accumulate storable food at reasonable prices. The Efoods line of Nutriversal foods are organic, high in nutrients, completely free of any GMOs, delicious, and best of all, affordable. No matter what the future brings, in the coming years food will certainly be much more expensive. It makes sense to stock up now, so you won’t have that to worry about later.
Want to shop smart? Check out What to Buy in April to Be Prepared and Save Money to find out which items are steals for this month.
1 The Inquisitr: “Honeybee Deaths Rising Again” http://www.inquisitr.com/595646/honeybee-deaths-rising-again-video/
2 The Guardian: “Last Flight of the Honeybee?” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/31/animalwelfare.environment
3 Liberation: “Why Are Honey Bees Dying Off In Massive Numbers?” http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/why-are-honeybees-dying-off.html
4 Reuters: “Groups Sue Over Honey Bee Deaths, Blame Insecticdes”
5 Border Bees Diary: “Colony Collapse Disorder” http://beediary.wordpress.com/tag/colony-collapse-disorder/