First came the controversial cry of global warming and second came the dire disappearance of the American Honey Bees. While most think of these buzzing critters as nothing more than obnoxious wisps that dart by one’s ears and occasionally sting, they play a more crucial role in sustaining widespread life on Earth than almost any other entity in existence. It takes a lot of food to feed seven billion people, not to mention the billions of other herbivores surviving among them. Without honey bees pollinating the world’s blanket of life-sustaining crops, staples of the modern man’s diet will simply cease to grow and global famine will ensue with catastrophic intensity. Put bluntly: without bees roaming the earth, both life and the way cultures live it will be irreversibly lost.
There are many theories as to why the bee populations are declining, referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder, at such a devastating rate. The most agreed upon conclusion is the presence of pesticides containing hazardous Neonicotinoids. These harmful chemicals, that endure in the soil for years after permeating, began appearing in vastly used bug-prevention products in the 1990s. This, accordingly, is when Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, also made its debut. Countries like Italy, Germany, and France have already taken measures to remove Neonicotinoids from common use, so why hasn’t the U.S.?
As America’s bees steadily vanish, the agricultural industry teeters on the brink of cataclysmic collapse as well. Almonds, apples, avocados, grapes, olives, carrots, onions, cotton, peanuts, and soybeans are just a portion of the foods and product foundations drastically dependent upon the cross-pollination provided by bees. A world imagined without these foods and products is a bleak world indeed, not to mention the 15 billion dollar loss the agricultural industry would sustain.
In addition to being instrumental in feeding the hungry planet, bees are also designated an Indicator Species. This means that their health is representative of the well-being of the immense biodiversity they reside in. That being said, if bees go, many other species sadly go as well. It would be a ripple effect that would reverberate through nature until resembling an unstoppable tidal wave. According to scientists, this mass extinction is already underway, and not since the perish of the dinosaurs has it occurred at this severity. Without the divine work of bees, it seems unarguably evident that life on Earth as human beings know it could be forever lost.
With a third of the American bee population already gone, the urgency to act could not be more palpable. The beekeeper industry is already on the brink of annihilation and the gargantuan agricultural industry would be under siege next. From there, global famine, economic implosion, and widespread extinction would trickle throughout every facet of life delicately contained within the planet.
It is impossible to think that all this desolation could be from the absence of one ambitious little insect. Sadly, the apocalyptic repercussions are as real as the bee’s shrinking numbers. The first step is removing toxic Neonicotinoid pesticides from farmer’s arsenals. The second is diligent research. The world is at a major intersection and while one direction perpetuates the perseverance of both life and the profound complexities in which it is sustained, the other would bring about the diminishing of potentially billions and a planet void of variety. And it all came down to the busy bee, who without, the way of life the Earth has grown accustomed to would be monumentally lost.
By Brandon Duringer