Albert Einstein said “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Why? Einstein said this because the survival of human beings and honey bees is intimately interconnected. According to National Geographic, a full 1/3 of the food in our grocery stores is created with the help of pollinators, most of which are bees. Every time you eat a slice of apple pie, cut up a tomato for a salad or drop a slice of lime into your drink, you are enjoying a produce item that would quickly go extinct if bees disappeared from the farms and gardens of the world. And agriculture would not be the only area to suffer from a shortage of pollinators. Honey bees are also a key factor in the procreation of native plant and flower pollutions throughout the world, which, in turn, support entire ecosystems.
Without bees, the world as we know it could not continue. And, frighteningly enough, the extinction of the honey bee is a very real and present threat. Since roughly 2005, bees have been dying by the ten of millions, with 1/3 of many bee populations disappearing every year. As researchers frantically scramble to locate the cause of the bee’s rapid decline, agricultural pesticides offer a highly likely theory. Honey bees are extremely sensitive to the harsh pesticides that are more and more often being used on commercial crops and researchers have found that these chemicals can cause memory loss and/or death. The pesticides not only linger on the plants that bees pollinate, but can also seep into groundwater and spread away from fields and into the bees’ habitats. Another possible explanation is the continuing land development and rapid decrease of the flower-rich grassland environments that bees need to thrive.
However, as Richard Branson points out in his blog, the distressing decline of honey bees has sparked worldwide action and fueled a movement which may be able turn the situation around. Branson points out that “[i]n the US a native bee species was spotted this week for the first time since the 1990s and conservation efforts are underway. Back in Europe, a two-year moratorium on three neonicotinoid pesticides was announced recently the European Parliament after more than 2.5 million people signed a petition.” As celebrities, leaders and policymakers continue to join forces and raise awareness and support for this issue, we can only hope that change will come in time to save this amazing little creature.
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