Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Creating a Buzz to Save the Bees!

Monday, July 14, 2014

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
 - Albert Einstein

Bee the Change You Want to See

The other morning, while sitting at the kitchen table with my three year old, we had a discussion about honey. She was both puzzled and delighted to discover that the golden liquid I poured over her oatmeal, was in fact made by bees. Having recently read an article about the disappearance of bees and it's frightening affects on our ecosystem and food supply, our conversation went something like this. 

Me: Yes! It's true that bees make the honey you're eating. And do you know what else? Without the bees buzzing from flower to flower we wouldn't be able to grow most of the food we need to keep us healthy and strong.

Esmae: I love bees.

Me: I love bees too but right now they are in trouble.

Esmae: Do they need our help?

Me: Yes.

Esmae: I can save them, mama!

Me: I hope so. We'll do our best to make it a safer place for bees to live, okay?

Esmae: Okay.

As a mother it is frightening for me to think of a world without bees. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture these hard working insects are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our flowering crops. In other words, bees allow us grow 1/3 of everything that we eat today. Without the bees we might very well be looking at life without apples, blueberries, broccoli, nuts, asparagus, and the list goes on and on. But it gets even worse. Bees also help pollinate plants like alfalfa, which is a staple of the beef industry. One study from Cornell University estimated that bees pollinate close to 14 billion dollars worth of seeds and crops from the U.S. Meaning that without bees, we would be left with very little to survive on.

There have been reports of bees disappearing at an alarming rate since 1996. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is characterized by the USDA as a, "serious problem threatening the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States." Although the exact cause of (CCD) is yet to be fully determined, it is widely believed by the scientific community that pesticides (especially the neonicotinoids which are used on the majority of our nation's crops) play a large role in the bees disappearing act. An article written in Collective Evolution states that, "A new study out of Harvard University, published in the June edition of the Bulletin of Insectology puts the nail in the coffin, neonicotinoids are killing bees at an exponential rate, they are the direct cause of the phenomenon labeled as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Neonicotinoid’s are the world’s most widely used insecticides." And we're not talking about the results of a single investigation. There have been numerous studies that have come to the same conclusion, explaining that the problem with these pesticides is that the seep into the soil and can also be transferred by the bees themselves from flower to flower. 

So what can we do about it? Well, for starters we can spread the word. This is a cause that everyone can get behind. Whether you are a liberal environmentalist, a conservative business owner, or simply a concerned parent, nobody is going to be better off without the bees. Unfortunately, plenty of people still don't understand the ramification of a world without these all important pollinators. Which is why is so important to get the message out there. 

Another hugely important thing to do, is to make sure that there are no pesticides used in your own garden or yard. The more bee-friendly habitats there are, the better. You can even take it a step further by growing bee-friendly flowers. This lovely poster from Etsy shows the kinds of plants that bees love the most. Plus, it would be a really pretty edition to the home as a framed kitchen print, don't you think!?

And finally, take a stand by getting behind the movement to ban neonicotinoids from use. As of now there are two bills waiting for Congress that would take neonicotinoids off the market until further review. If you are interested in supporting such a bill you can sign the petitions from, Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety. Create a buzz and save the bees!

I thought this "Restaurant menu" from Buzz About Bees  was nice concept and another great way to think about creating a safe space for bees.


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