By Avarose Serrano ’18
Are seasonal activities like pumpkin carving, apple picking, or even sledding on a cold winter day enjoyable to you? These things are all possible thanks to bees and their pollination. From April 2015 to April 2016, the United States lost 44% of bee colonies kept by beekeepers. When or if bees go extinct, many of us will suffer the loss of many crops and plants. A life without bees means a life without countless widely adored foods like avocados, almonds, coconuts, grapes, watermelon, cucumbers, and even drinks like wine and nut based milks. This ominous future reality can cause concern among the general public, but rapidly dying bees are not a concern of many. For instance, the same day bees were officially added to the endangered species list, the news was inundated with coverage on the Kim Kardashian robbery, leaving the bee articles in the dark.
While some people disagree on the rate at which bees are vanishing, it is almost impossible not to believe that they are at risk for extinction inevitably due to the disruption of their habitats. Many colonies of bees have lost their homes as a result of urbanization and common household pest-killing remedies. Though it is understandable to want bees as well as other potentially harmful insects away from a home where someone could be allergic, it is not wise to kill them, as this can affect the environment, and it currently is. As urbanization increases, the number of bees will unfortunately decrease. Left with nowhere to live, they will eventually die off.
Along with habitat fragmentation, bees are being killed due to specific bee killing pesticides. To thwart decreases of crops, farmers will spray large amounts of pesticides like Spectracide, Aldicarb, Methomyl, and Demeton; all ranging in levels of toxicity. For a long time the EPA denied such pesticides were actually toxic to bees specifically, but after the attention brought to the decreasing population, they admitted these chemicals were killing bees in attempt to get farmers to use alternatives to save them.
Though the bee population is plummeting, there are ways to hopefully reverse this trend. Bee- Safe lawn care is an organic lawn care company that uses all organic and nontoxic chemicals to fertilize and treat lawns. They also have organic ant and flea pesticides. Companies like this are making a conscious and consistent effort to increase the bee population while making chemicals safe for not only bees but the children and pets of the customers.
If you cannot afford an all organic lawn company, there are many inexpensive or free methods to help out your own bee population at home. When buying the bee’s most famous product, honey, be sure to buy raw honey from your local market. Buying local honey as opposed to the mass produced kind ensures the bees were being used humanely and safely by the beekeeper. You could also decorate your yard space with various vibrant flowers, but plant prairies rather than lawns. A lawn is not beneficial to bees because the plants that are actually beneficial to bees are cut too soon for them to get anything out of them. When planting that prairie, don’t be afraid to leave the weeds be! Weeds are a very good food source for bees and while they might not look the prettiest, your garden will benefit a lot more once there are more fruits, herbs, and flowers due to their increased population and health.
The next time you are enjoying some watermelon on a hot summer day or carving pumpkins in the fall, think twice about why these things are so abundant and how bees are behind much more than just honey.