Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is it Doomsday for Honey Bees (and Cows)?

Did you know most beef and dairy products count on insect-pollinated alfalfa and clover?
News Flash: The honey bee and our food chain are linked big-time. (See the importance of bees and our planet in the honey bee trailer.)  In the new book The Healing Powers of Honey (Kensington), I discuss how crops depend on the beekeepers and small honey bee in a big way. Millions of acres of U.S. fruit, vegetable, oilseed, and legume crops depend on insect-pollination--and that includes the sacred honey bees.
It's estimated by the USDA that 80 percent of insect crop pollination is done by the hardworking honey bees. If you do the math that means one-third of the total human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants--all the good, healthful stuff that you and I love and eat each day. And that's not where the honey bee's work stops, either.
The problem is, beekeepers are witnessing the mysterious die-offs of bee colonies. But nobody knows exactly why the honey bee is going AWOL. Theories include climate change, diet, stress, pesticides, and more. And if the honey bee becomes extinct--our food chain and planet will end as we know it. So, here are ways we can help keep the honey bee alive and well.
* Devote a portion of your property to growing annual and perennial plants to help honey bees collect nectar.
* Reduce the use of pesticides.
* Supply fresh water in a way so visiting bees don't become a nuisance.
* Donate funds to bee researchers around the country who are trying to determine the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder and what can be done to bolster bee population.

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