Absence: The Bee’s Truest Sting

They’re annoying. They sting us. And we need them desperately.

Neonicotinoid. Luckily we don’t need to know how to say it to know the impact it’s having. With one in every three bites of food we eat coming from a plant or depending on a plant that was most likely pollinated by a bee, anything that is devastating our bee population must be taken seriously. Our reliance on bees is due to our reliance on crops and wild plants which are reliant upon bees for their life. Some estimates say that 30% of crops and 90% of wild plants are entirely reliant on bees. According to this piece at MongaBay:

“Following a flood of damning research on the longterm impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on bee colonies, the EU is proposing a two year ban on the popular pesticides for crops that attract bees, such as corn, sunflower, oil seed rape, cotton.”

Bayer is one of the largest producers of these pesticides and they’ve called efforts to ban their use of it “draconian.” Other reports cite that their own paid researchers found nothing dangerous at all with these substances.

Still, SumOfUs.org has received over 100,000 signatures on their Bayer: withdraw neonicotinoid from the market petition.

Regarding this situation, biologist Dr. Reese Halter recently wrote:

“The three insecticides in particular identified are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. France, Germany and Slovenia have banned them. Hoembase, B&Q and Wickes have removed products from their shelves containing these bee-killing poisons. In America, according to the Xeric Society’s report some commercial neonictinoid products available at garden centers are 120 times higher than those applied on agricultural fields.”

Three years ago reports were breaking about how bees were rapidly dying off because of diseases like American Foulbrood. With heightened attention on the sensitivity of bees came an increased awareness for what else might effect their health and why this matters to us. Dr. Halter concludes his essay with:

“Keeping our bees healthy is of paramount importance for inspiring new technologies to solve problems in space exploration, and ultimately the health, wellbeing and longevity of our species.”

So what can you do? For starters, you don’t have to own bees to help. Care2 offers these 5 suggestions:

1. Don’t spray pesticides. Pesticides are a major culprit in Colony Collapse Disorder, and the best way to help bees is to stop spraying the stuff!
2. Buy organic. Support organic farmers who use natural farming methods that are bee-friendly.
3. Don’t support industrial honey. Large-scale honey operations are more focused on output and profit than with the health of the bees. If you’re going to eat honey, make sure it comes from a small operation. You can often find small beekeepers at your local farmers market, and they’ll tell you all about their beekeeping adventures!
4. Plant a bee-friendly habitat. Pollinators need a place to pollinate, and by providing bee-friendly plants in your yard, porch, or window box, you give them a place to just be. Plants like fruit, herbs, melons, and even some trees can attract bees to your yard or garden.
5. Get heard! If we’re going to help save the bees on a large scale, we need to let decision-makers know how we feel. Check out this petition aimed at the EPA calling for a ban on pesticides that harm bee populations.

Lastly, check out what is perhaps America’s only urban beekeeping store has to say about rescuing honeybees:

Tweet this article with #BeesMatter

–Photo: usgsbiml/Flickr

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About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.

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