Honey We Shrunk the Bees

By on July 3rd, 2008

Many Canadians likely caught the news story a few days ago about the truck that flipped over on a New Brunswick highway with 12 million honey bees on board. The concern for those who are allergic to bee stings got plenty of media attention, however, I was surprised how little was said about the poor endangered honey bees. After reading the recent CNN article about Colony Collapse Disorder, I was certain the truck accident would be a good excuse to educate the Canadian public about the plight of our precious pollinators. Visions of Bee Movie 2 filled my head after learning that the mysterious disappearance of honey bees has devastated North American beekeepers for the second year in a row. I was shocked to learn that 25% of the western honey bee population has disappeared due to CCD, a phenomenon that is blamed at least partially on various man made interferences such as pesticide use, loss of nutrition, global warming, and commercial migration (a.k.a transporting bees in trucks on highways).

Here are some other stinging statistics:

  • Approximately 1/3 of the food we eat relies on bees for pollination
  • Some researchers believe that without research and protection honey bees could go extinct within ten years
  • Many North American beekeepers are reporting a loss of up to 70% of their bee populations in the last two years
  • According to the World Bank, food prices have risen over 80% in the last three years. Some farmers say that if beekeepers go out of business the cost of nuts, fruit, and vegetables could increase tenfold.

Here are some things you can do with your kids to promote awareness about the honey bee crisis:

  • Rent Bee Movie and talk with your kids about the role the bees play as pollinators.
  • Buy Hagaan Dazs Ice cream –a portion of bee dependent flavours goes to honeybee research.
  • Buy honey products (to support local beekeepers)
  • Visit educational websites for free lessons on honey bees
  • Plant a bee friendly garden with flowers like sunflowers, lilacs, and cosmos
  • Donate money to honey bee research

Einstein has been falsely quoted as saying that humans would begin disappearing four years after the honey bee. Even if it wasn’t Einstein who made this prediction more than fifty years ago, it is obvious that a disappearance of these pollinators would have a major impact on the world’s food supply. How many years would you give us?