Honey is mentioned in the Bible 61 times, the Archie’s sung about it in the sixties (Ahh, Honey, Honey), and people have been using the sweet stuff for medicine, food and beverages for thousands of years. Honey may also become a thing of the past as depopulation continues in Bee colonies throughout the world. Not to mention, the absence of the best pollinators known to man will have detrimental effects on agriculture and horticulture.
The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder or simply the Honey Bee crisis. It has been happening since 2006 when approximately one third of all hives disappeared in the United States and continues to decline to this day. In the following year the rate of decline had reached 36% and today more than half of all honeybee colonies are gone. There are many theories as to why this has occurred. Many blame parasites, diseases, viruses and malnutrition. Researches have noted that contaminated flowers by toxic pesticides are poisoning the bees, and the most destructive disease is the mite Varroa.
So what can we do and what is being done? Well for starters becoming educated and educating others is an easy way to get involved. You can also begin beekeeping in your backyard. There are many great resources on the Internet about beekeeping for beginners. Along those lines, making your yard or garden bee friendly will help with their well being and nutrition. Plant diverse, native species and plant colorful flowers that are different shapes and sizes. What ever you do, don’t use pesticides. Lastly, eat plenty of Haagen-Dazs. That’s right, this ice cream company is committed to the preservation of the honeybee, raising funds for Penn State and the University of California, the two leading institutes on bee research.
So what are others doing? Researchers are currently finding ways to prevent disease from spreading and vaccinating entire colonies. In Spain, scientists have tested an antibiotic drug on under-populated colonies and have seen complete recoveries. In Chicago, bees are actually thriving as roof top beehives produce 200 pounds of surplus of honey per hive. For example, the green roof atop city hall has provided for very successful beehives, due mainly to pesticide free flowers growing throughout the city. Many urbanites and young hobbyists are even keeping bees on their balconies.
So is there hope for the bee? We better hope so for our sake. It’s not just honey that we will miss, but one-third of the world’s food supply is dependent on bees for their pollination. With that being said, who wants to make a beeline to the store and get some Haagen-Dazs for me? The bees are counting on you for their survival.