Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

10 Apple Trees A Day

You walk into the supermarket and are confronted by the sign “bananas sold out due to panama disease” you then scan the rest of the fruits and notice a gap where you normally find apples. You don’t understand what’s happening slowly one by one fruits are becoming impossible to find in supermarkets. How could apples be affected you wonder, but then you overhear a shop attendant explaining to another customer that a lack of bees has lead to an inadequate supply of apples.

Now this situation may seem far-fetched where every apple disappears from shops, however it is a very real possibility. According the journal article “Global Pollinator Decline: Trends, Impacts and drivers”, between 1947 and 2005, there has been a 59% decline in bee populations in the United States and a 25% decrees in the United Kingdom. This decrease in global bee populations is alarming because 1/3 of the food we eat relies on pollination by bees. Bee die off has been attributed to the use of pesticides, parasites and even climate change.


One area in China, the Sichuan Province has already experienced w



hat life is life without bees. Since the 1990’s, the Sichuan Province has been experiencing declines in apple productions, and it has been attributed to bee loss. There has been such a large decline in bee populations that farmers have had to resort to hand pollinating every apple tree in order to obtain a useable crop. This tremendous task involves over 4,000 women, men and children to pollinate the 6,437-hectare apple orchard.


If this data were to be extrapolated worldwide, where every apple orchard had to hand pollinate their trees due to bee die-off, it would take an army of 1,000,000 people 15 days, at a rate of 10 trees per day to hand pollinate every tree in the world (yara crop nutrition). Now this might seem plausible to have a

n army hand pollinate trees, however if each individual were to be under the age of 16 and be receiving the absolute minimum Australian wage of $10.81, it would cost $162,000,000 AUD annually. Which is more than some countries average GDP.




Now this is only one example of bee die off, if bees were to all die, we would have to resort to hand pollinating 1/3 of the food we eat, an impossible task. Therefore it is dire that bee populations are protected. There are a number of way

s to help bee populations, some of these include planting flowers in your garden for bees to use, reduction in the use of pesticides and by not killing bees that are flying around. You can also join bee lobbies such as, or

After all, bees want to pollinate flowers, they aren’t wasps who are evil and want to sting you – however that’s a story for another time.





One comment on “10 Apple Trees A Day

  1. gmleszczynski
    May 2, 2016

    I do have to agree with you about wasps, especially after being stung, they are pure evil!
    But bees are a little miracle that we obviously take advantage of daily, losing bananas is a travesty but losing apples? How will we ever get our apple a day if they become rare or even completely gone.

    I’ve always wondered whether the pollination of the general population of fruit occurs from wild bees, or if we can attribute pollination to some home kept bees too?
    If those who have their own bees at home for honey are keeping them safe and increasing general bee numbers they should be rewarded, because really they are helping out the world! Scheper, et al (2014) have said that entomologists have been researching the decline, they believe that plant species die out has been decreasing bees preferred food source.

    Bees give us sweet honey, juicy fruits and help pollinate beautiful flowers too. This little buzzing creature although not welcome at your weekend picnic should be cherished because they are the free worker. Here’s to bees and hopefully a lifetime filled with natural fruits!


    Scheper, J, Reemer, M, van Kats, R, Ozinga, WA, van der Linden, GT, Schaminee, JH, Siepel, H, & Kleijn, D 2014, ‘Museum specimens reveal loss of pollen host plants as key factor driving wild bee decline in The Netherlands’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, no. 49, p. 17552.


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This entry was posted on May 1, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 11am, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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