As a boy growing up I hated bees. I was extremely allergic and always run away from bees about as fast I would the random snakes I come across when playing outside. Now being an adult and focusing my life on the ethics and principles that guide social work, I feel much differently about bees…those brightly colored ‘givers of life’ we all take for granted.
A few years ago I read my first article about the sudden and growing problem of bees dying off. This is a problem that has been around for a while in the U.S. However this growing problem along with bee advocates are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Finally many of the environmental agendas similar to Colorado’s program are working to change the problem of our disappearing bees. Websites such as Environment Colorado bring much needed attention and helps to define the environmental issues Colorado as a state currently deals with. You can find their website here: http://www.environmentcolorado.org/programs/coe/no-bees-no-food
A great article from Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens written by Beatriz Moisset who is a biologist by profession and a photographer and painter by avocation; led me to begin thinking about honey bees in a systems theory perspective. Looking at systems theory with a perspective of honey bees as well as social work many issues come into play. For example how honey bees effect the human population and the sustainability of the human population. Bees are a part of our ecological environment. But what many do not understand is that bees have an effect on many different systems we are currently familiar with. If we lose bees first our economies are effected worldwide as an effected sub system. Bees pollinate our crops and the crops they pollinate are in upwards of billions of dollars in profits. The environment is effected and the economy will be effected. The next system effected will be the human population. Millions will die for lack of the sustainable diets we have become used to if we lose honey bees. With the value of social justice in mind as a social worker after identifying a population of people gravely effected, it is a duty and vow I have taken to advocate for issues of people being effected by an issue that they have no control over. As well Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens goes on to explain that pesticides are at the root of causes for the honey bees disappearing. These pesticide companies are large and much organization, advocacy, and policy change will be needed in the future of this problem. As social workers we must take notice to this cause of honey bees disappearing and as a fellow humans we must begin to care about this problem and advocate for our brightly colored friends that we must learn to co-exist with and protect. You can find this website at http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/will-we-all-die-if-honey-bees-disappear/
Millions of bees, sometimes whole hive populations, are disappearing overnight. Why does this matter? Bees are ‘givers of life’, they give plants the ability to generate the nutrition our human race needs for nutritional stability and sustainability. Bees help feed our growing population of the human species.
What would actually happen if we lost our bees? When researching the answer to this question I come across this website http://honeylove.org. While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop we still need bees for so many pivotal foods that are currently part of our diet. Here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if we lost all of our bees: Apples, Mangos, Rambutan, Kiwi Fruit, Plums, Peaches, Nectarines, Guava, Rose Hips, Pomegranates, Pears, Black and Red Currants, Alfalfa (what we feed cattle), Okra, Strawberries, Onions, Cashews, Cactus, Apricots, Allspice, Avocados, Passion Fruit, Lima and Kidney Beans, Green Beans, Orchid Plants, Cherries, Coffee, Flax, Lemons, Carrots, Cucumber, Cantaloupe, Coconut, Tangerines, Beets, Blackberries, Sesame, Raspberries, Tomatoes and Cocoa. Sadly this list goes on and on.
The website authors are the also founders of the Honey Love Urban Beekeepers which is a Los Angeles based 501(c)3 non-profit conservation organization with a mission to protect honeybees by educating our communities and inspiring new urban beekeepers. Their website explains what is at stake with videos like this one by KCET: Urban Beekeeping: What’s the Buzz About? It features Honey Lover Sylvia Henry and explains in length what will happen should we ever lose our bees.
As a social worker and a Colorado citizen I wanted to know what types of things we are doing in Colorado to battle this problem? This website provides a good summary of Colorado’s effort: http://www.colorado.edu/news/features/campus-pollinator-gardens-pretty-and-problem-solving
Boulder CU has made initiatives to practice low water usage as well as practice environmentally sound pesticide use. This helps with the sustainability goals of the school as well as continues to support the pollination activity of bees in the local ecosystem. Bees and butterflies were immediately attracted to the first location garden where CU began to use correct flower species and plants that would attract pollinating insects.
As well locals have labeled this as an aesthetically pleasing and a nice area to visit when in and around the campus. One visitor described it as “a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall; arranged in dense clumps of species rather than many single species; that includes native plants or those that are well-suited to the Front Range; and requires no chemical treatment.” The project was funded by Sustainable CU, an improvement initiative passed by students in 2005. The project is funded by allocating a percentage of student fees to campus projects that integrate renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, recycling and waste reduction and other technological efforts that can help reduce CU-Boulder’s footprint on the local environment.
Boulder CU has the right idea. A lot is a stake if we lose our honey bees. Hopefully this article has helped you understand the problem of disappearing bees and what happens if there are no more bees.
- Sarich, Christina. (August 15, 2013). List of Foods We Will Lose if We Don’t Save the Bees. Retrieved from http://honeylove.org/list-of-food/
- (2016). Lets give bees a chance. Retrieved from http://www.environmentcolorado.org/programs/coe/no-bees-no-food
- Natural Sciences. (September 30, 2015). Campus pollinator gardens: Pretty and problem-solving. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/news/features/campus-pollinator-gardens-pretty-and-problem-solving