Honey; there’s no denying its irresistible taste. However, the very chefs that bring us this delicacy may be in jeopardy.
In previous years, it has been observed around the world that honeybees have been disappearing in increasing numbers. Scientists have since then termed this phenomenon ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD) and have found it to be potentially linked to the use of pesticides and insecticides in the agricultural industry. Neonicotinoids are one class of insecticides that are used, which has been found to affect the central nervous systems of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. Studies have found that residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants, which are then passed on to pollinators such as the honeybee. In addition, in a news report issued by the European Food Safety Commission, scientists have found that neonicotinoids can have an effect on the human nervous system, as well as damage brain structures and functions in the fetal stage of development. Although more research still has to be done on its impact to human health, there is no denying that the environment and human health are intrinsically linked. According to Jeff Pettis, Research leader at the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, “Our health really does rely and fly on the wings of honeybees. The one-third of our diet that relies on bees’ cross-pollination is the fruits, nuts and vegetables that enrich our diet and allow us to thrive.”
So what can we do to help the situation? Here are a few ideas you can implement in your own community to revert CCD.
Plant Bee-Friendly Gardens
Planting bee friendly gardens is a great way to attract bees and other pollinators. Organic gardens ensure that no pesticides are used which can harm bees and other pollinators. Also, it is best to plant flowers sporadically throughout the garden to attract bees, and ensure that your crops are getting pollinated as well. The Daily Green gives us a list of bee friendly flowers that can be planted in gardens. Research has found that bees are particularly attracted to flowers that are yellow, violet, orange and blue.
Go Herbicide Free
Dandelions, clovers and other weeds will sprout, but they provide honeybees with a seasonal food source. Dandelion greens are also healthy and nutritious, so why not add those herbicide free weeds in a soup or salad?
Shopping local and organically will also minimize the chances of bees being exposed to dangerous pesticides. Look for organic farms near your area that provide farm shares throughout the summer and fall seasons. Not only is it healthier for you, but you will also have the peace of mind knowing where your food is coming from.
Einstein once said, “If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live”. Although this number is likely a rough estimate, it still emphasizes the urgency of our current situation. It is up to us to protect the honeybees, and ourselves, from the detrimental effects of Colony Collapse Disorder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karissa Chandrakate is an environmental science graduate of McMaster University, with a strong environmental conscience. Since her graduation, she has been involved with various environmental organizations including Earth Day Hamilton-Burlington, Green Venture, and the Hamilton Naturalist Club. She takes a keen interest in environmental health, and hopes to bring awareness to the importance of environmental preservation. Some of Karissa's hobbies include: martial arts, yoga, fitness and photography.