Monday, June 16, 2008
Why You Should Care About Honeybees
Because bees pollinate about one-third of crop species in the U.S.
Because without this pollination we'd be left with only plants that can be wind-pollinated - things like wheat. Imagine a diet of only bread and meat. Fun for a week, maybe.
Because the loss of more than a quarter of the country's 2.4 million bee colonies - tens of billions of bees - due to Colony Collapse Disorder is projected have an $8-$12 billion effect on America's agricultural economy.
Because without the bees to pollinate our plants, we would be left with little choice except to pollinate them ourselves - BY HAND.
There was a documentary on PBS last night that described hand-pollination, which is currently taking place in a part of southern Sichuan province in China where the bee population was killed off because of overuse of pesticides. They now have to painstakingly remove the pollen off each flower, allow it to dry for two days and then crush it to a powder. Then, using a brush made of chicken feathers to replicate the bushy body of a bee, a farmer lightly dusts each blossom of a tree. One person can do about 30 trees in a day. A bee can do about 3 million blossoms.
Ten things to do to help honeybees (guardian.co.uk, May 2008)
Silence of the Bees (PBS, June 2008)