“The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century.” – Achim Steiner, UN Undersecretary-General and UNEP’s Executive Director
Amazingly, bees pollinate over 70 percent of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of global food supplies. Many vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seed crops are dependent on pollination, with most of that being done by wild bees.
According to a recent report (March 2011) from the United Nations Environment Program on honey bee and pollinator decline, “Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”
Globally, colony decline (Colony Collapse Disorder) is most prevalent in North America. Factors contributing to the decline of honey bee populations include:
1. Habitat loss/deterioration by humans. Considered a key cause of honey bee decline due to reduced food sources available.
2. Weak ecosystems – encourage mites, viruses, beetles to proliferate and infect bees
3. Pollution – disrupts vital scent trails produced by chemicals in plants
4. Climate change – shorter growing seasons, changing weather patterns affect plant & pollen
5. Electromagnetic field disruptions can disturb bee behaviours
6. Genetically modified seeds and terminator seeds – affect the production of pollen nutrients and can lead to malnourishment of bees
7. Toxic insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
General Ways to Support Bee Populations:
1. Habitat conservation
2. Alternative farming methods
3. Planting of pollinator-friendly plants
Locally, what can you do? If possible, set up a backyard beehive (there are even companies that will come in, set them up, and manage them for you!) and have an abundance of pollinator-friendly plants and flowers growing. The honey produced by these amazing Beeings will be reward in itself!