One-third of the food we eat—from fruits and vegetables to nuts and coffee beans—is pollinated by honeybees. In other words, we’re in debt to honeybees for one out of every three mouthfuls we take at dinner (and for vegetarians, even more). Honeybees fuel us.
The problem is that honeybees are in crisis: last year, 42% of bee colonies in the United States collapsed. In other words, bee populations are plummeting as sick bees desert the hive and die in unprecedented numbers. This is not just a national problem: honeybee colonies are collapsing across the globe, threatening our food supply, our health, and our planet’s future. With overwhelming bee deaths, U.S. farmers are resorting to importing millions of bees from Australia just to keep their crops alive and some farmers in China, in regions where bees have disappeared completely, are trying to mimic nature and hand-pollinate. This is expensive, unsustainable, and unnatural—and fails as a long-term solution.
We must see this bee epidemic as a sign that our earth demands change. And we must be the ones to resuscitate it.
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Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of two new strains of genetically modified (GMO) corn, sans government oversight. In other words, industrial farmers are given free range (unregulated by the federal government) to introduce and plant in abundance these new strains, which are genetically manipulated in labs to withstand being doused with high doses of pesticides and herbicides. This is far from natural and devastatingly lacks foresight.
The human health consequences of increased pesticide spraying are undeniable: the World Health Organization has declared many of the pesticides still approved for use in the U.S. “probable human carcinogens,” including the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, glyphosate. Irrefutable scientific studies have proven that more pesticide spraying means more human cancer diagnoses. This is not ok.
But the story goes deeper. Global reviews of thousands of studies overwhelmingly point to the same thing: pesticides, including a particularly dangerous class of them called neonicotinoids, are responsible for honeybees vanishing. Pesticides are killing our precious pollinators.
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What we need is systemic change—and we must be part of the solution.
Genetically modified foods are threatening our health and putting our food supply—our survival as a species and a planet—at risk. We must demand GMO labelling of our foods. A revolution in human health begins with a revolution in consciousness: each of us must know what’s in our food and how it’s impacting the earth, the creatures upon the earth, and our wellness. We as a people are interconnected and our destiny is entwined with the earth’s and that of our companion creatures, including honeybees. We must make this connection known and we must act accordingly. In other words, we must change our buying, eating, and gardening habits to align with earth's natural rhythms and laws—and we must demand that industry does, too.
Honeybees have evolved with such an incredible symbiosis with fruiting plants, down to their fuzzy bodies and physical anatomy: one cannot survive without the other. Nature designed them together as perfect mates. We must honor nature’s laws. We are her stewards, not her authors. It is our responsibility to listen.
For more information about honeybees, watch Silence of the Bees, a Peabody Award-winning PBS documentary. Likely available at your local library.
To spark a revolution in consciousness and honey bee education among students of all ages, visit Planet Bee Foundation.