I love to watch bees. Springtime and early summer is when I find the plump yellow-and-black honeybees buzzing around my backyard, doing their best to pollinate every fruit and vegetable flower in sight.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, bees help* pollinate 71% of the 100 crops that provide most of the world’s food supply. Bees are busy pollinating fruits, avocados, almonds and other nuts, and we humans can eat 4000 different vegetable crops, thanks to bees. They also pollinate a variety of flowers, which add fragrance and color to our homes.
Bees have been in the news for the past decade for ‘colony collapse’, where the entire hive dies off. The cause is thought to be mites. A second concern was reported recently in the New York Times [“Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms”, NYT on March 28, 2013].
The article reports that during the past year, die-offs of honeybees escalated; the cause is thought to be nicotine-based pesticides.
We know that bees add immeasurably to the variety of foods we can eat and the flowers we can look at and smell. It would be great for bees if gardeners stopped using nicotine-based pesticides in their gardens. It would be even more helpful if agribusinesses did the same in the fields.
I for one want to see the bees kept happy and pollinating for years to come so I can enjoy the various fruits of their labor.
Bet you do, too!
*In 2000, the value of crops pollinated by bees was estimated at $14.6 billion in the USA alone, according to the UN.