Jim Bennett

So how important are bees for our survival?  Like so many other species mankind takes for granted, bees play a vital role in our survival.  In fact, they are largely responsible for the regulation of our entire food supply, according to One Green Planet. The plight of the honey bee has been declining 30% each year in the U.S. Globally, researchers struggle to understand why but the numbers don’t lie. Seventy of their top 100 food crops grown worldwide rely on pollinators to create 90 percent of the world’s nutrition.

A new study published in Nature Communications says that just 2% of wild bees pollinate 80% of crops grown in our agricultural system. The reverse of this fact is the scary part that is saying that if we lose those 2% of wild bees, 80% of our agricultural system will collapse. You can say goodbye to apples, plums, pears, peaches, almonds, oranges and avocados just for starters. Realizing that there are 850 million people around the world starving right now and our growing world population is set to explode to nine billion people by 2050, unless we solve the bee problems we will certainly be looking at massive food shortages worldwide. Yet bees are more important to the entire ecosystem than to just mankind. Bees allow plants around the world to pollinate. These plants contribute to feeding all animals, birds and other insects too. We need to create a “Land Ethic”, a term Aldo Leopold talked about back in the 50’s.

Mother Earth News reports that flying insect mass in Germany fell by 76% in less than 3 decades.  Entomologist just ended a 27 year study on insect biomass. Midsummer looses were even more significant at 82 percent.  This “Insect Armageddon” has global implications because fewer insects mean certain tasks in nature will not be done, ecosystems will collapse because fewer insects mean less food for every link in the entire food chain. Similar studies in places like Puerto Rico’s “El Yunque” national Forest have shown drastic drops of insects there have led to subsequent declines in lizards, frogs and birds, which should be viewed as “Canary’s in the coal mine” indicators. They are not sure why it’s happening, but it’s happening all around the world.

What’s causing all the problems? For me it’s obviously habitat changes and loss. Locally, cash crops and pesticides are changing our world for the worse by government, corporate farming and big business with big money pushing it right down our throats. Just take a drive through the countryside around the 4th of July and look at all the corn. Is it a foot high or will you find it depleted of bees and other insects?

Researchers are saying habitat loss, climate change, pesticides and other chemicals are killing bees and other insects here in our backyards. Neonicotinoids are a group of pesticides that attack a bee’s nervous system. The same bee and insect loss is being reported in North America, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

I see well groomed yards without dandelions being as much to blame as corporate farmers when neighbors and lawn care companies spray chemicals all over our yards and then put up signs saying kids and pets should avoid these areas. What can you do? Plant a bee garden and start growing wild flowers today for starters!

Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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