Go to fullsize image  Honey bees = Honey.  Yes, that’s true and I have to admit that I love that honey.  I could go on and on about it’s benefits and time honored reputation.  However, we should think about this: Honey Bees = Our Food Supply.  We need honey bees to pollinate our crops in order to produce fruits, vegetables, and grains.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food.  In other words, 30% of our necessary diet is dependent on these mighty little workers.  One would be naive to think that this was a little issue.  It is a world wide issue.  It is estimated that Italy’s 50 million Euro a year honey industry, has lost 50% of it’s honey bees.  When the pollinators are gone, humans are gone.

They are calling it colony collapse disorder.  What happens is the hives inhabitants are affected by an infectios disease often leaving only the queen, some eggs and a couple workers.  The rest disappear.  Colony Collapse Disorder has been reported in 24 states and 70% (possibly up to 90%) of the managed colonies have been affected by it. 

Although no one is absolutely sure why this is happening, there is speculation that chemicals (from pesticides, contaminated water supplies and household run-off), habitat destruction, invasive species, microbes, and global warming all may be playing a role.  Another lesser talked about suspect is genetically modified crops.  Some suspect that the chemicals used to create the modified seeds is passed on to the bees affecting their immune systems.

Honey bees are a biological indicator.  If the honey bees aren’t happy, than nobodies happy.  Scientists can use the honey bees health to gain clues to the environment’s overall health.  So, that environment thing isn’t looking so good right now, is it??

What are you supposed to do, oh little reader about this enormous mystical problem?  Thankfully, there’s a few things you can do to help the honey bee, help you.  You can support chemical free farming practices by purchasing organic products and nongenetically modified foods.  You can spread the word that honey bees are in trouble and impress upon others how important honey bees are to our life.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if our presidential candidates discussed the declining supply of honey bees along with oil supplies?  If people thought fuel prices were causing economic problems, wait until there’s a problem with the pollinators.  Our food prices will be astronomical!!  Attract honey bees to that little place you call home by following some of these or these VERY simple steps.  Here’s a list of “Honey Plants’ from Purdue University Extension you can place in your yard (or weeds to keep in your yard:)):

  • apple blossom (and other fruit trees)
  • asters (in fall, especially the small, white frostweed aster)
  • basswood
  • black locust
  • blackberry
  • blueberry (bees are very important for blueberry pollination)
  • box elder
  • clover: small white (dutch), yellow sweet, and white sweet (major honey source)
  • currant and gooseberry
  • dandelion (important in the spring because it blooms early)
  • goldenrod (late summer to fall, different kinds)
  • ground ivy
  • mint
  • raspberry
  • silver maple, red maple (maples mostly important for pollen, not honey)
  • tulip poplar (tulip tree)

Bee a friend.  Bee kind.  Bee aware.