Do you remember way back in 2007 when 60 Minutes reported that honey bees, perhaps the farmer’s most valuable partner, were dying off at alarming rates? Here’s a link to that story. This week Iowa Public Radio and other news sources reported that a group of environmentalists and beekeepers are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over bee deaths. The plaintiffs want the EPA to ban the use of certain pesticides known as neonicotinoids or neonics for short. (A European blog also explored the idea that neonics might be killing the bees in 2012. There are many other websites devoted to this topic as well.)
Why do bees matter? Let’s go back to what we learned about the food chain in elementary school. Bees are the primary pollinators of many plants, fruits, and flowers we eat and enjoy. They also pollinate many plants animals need to survive. Without bees, who work for free, human beings would have to figure out a way to transport trillions of tiny bits of pollen from one plant to another. Every orange starts from an orange blossom that has to be pollinated. Every pumpkin for pumpkin pie starts as a pumpkin flower. That cup of coffee you might have had this morning? That beverage came from a coffee bean and that coffee bean started out as a coffee blossom which was probably pollinated by bees.
Thanks to Iowa Public Radio for the link to this document. 2013-03-21NeonicsBeesComplaint
4/30/13 Related article from the Los Angeles Times: Honey May Hold the Sticky Solution to Bee Colony Collapse