Viewpoint: Buzzworthy problems with bees

The Ogden City Council has passed an ordinance working to encourage local beekeepers to amp up their game with looser regulations. For those who don’t know, the global bee population is in disarray. Colony collapse disorder is rampant across the globe. While this phenomenon is not new, it was renamed because of its growing prevalence.

Since 1980, the National Agriculture Statistics service has cited a drop from 4.5 billion honey-producing bee colonies to 2.4 billion. These numbers only include hives registered with the Department of Agriculture, making them more suspect in their decline, as they are in prime environments with watchful keepers.

Bees are a vital part of the global economy. Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, calculates that bees “contribute more than €22 billion ($30 billion) annually to European agriculture.” Think about it: Without bees, pollination doesn’t happen. Without pollination, we lose crops. Without crops, we lose both produce and meat, and humanity dies on the vine, or at least its produce does. Without bees, the earth faces a number of difficulties.

There would be a dearth of fruits, as pollinated crops would be a novelty. Here’s a short list of what would be missing from our produce sections: apples, onions, avocados, carrots, mangoes, lemons, limes, honeydew, cantaloupe, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, cucumbers, green onions, cauliflower, leeks, bok choy, kale, broccoli, broccoli rabe and mustard greens.

Additionally, our meat supply would falter, as the livestock would have nothing to eat. Whole Foods recently showed its customers what its stores would look like without any bee-related products. A striking 51 percent of its products were removed from the shelves, making it look like a ghost town.

The obvious next step is to figure out what is killing the bees. It would seem as though pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, are highly toxic and inevitably lethal.

While many other factors are leading to the decline of the bee population (electromagnetic radiation, multiple pathogens, climate change), our use of these pesticides certainly can’t help our situation. If one of these factors could be eliminated, why would that not be an immediate action? Why could we not immediately jump on the factor that we could control?

We at The Signpost don’t work for the EPA, nor can we pass legislation, but we can work to support local hives by buying local products and supporting legislation in favor of the protection of bees. Possibly the greatest step we can take is to support products that help the industry. In the democracy of economy, every dollar put toward a product is a vote for that product to succeed, and implicit within that vote is the support of the methods used to produce it.

At the end of the day, the greatest issues aren’t always buzzed about. Without bees, Honey Nut Cheerios would lose its mascot, the Beehive State would be an enigmatic reference and Winnie-the-Pooh would turn to alcohol in the void of honey. All jokes aside, the bee devastation is one of the greatest threats to our ecosystem. Let’s see what we can do about it.


Posted by on March 2, 2014. Filed under Opinion, Sustainability, Viewpoint. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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