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 buzzaboutbees.net, sos-bees.org or helpsavebees.co.uk.
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.