Pesticides and bees
If you’ve watched the Black Mirror episode about robotic bees, we don’t have to convince you why a future without these little ones would be grim. Also, who thought replacing bees with robotic clones would end well??! Maybe you don’t watch Black Mirror, but we KNOW you’ve seen Terminator. Have we learned nothing from Arnold?!
Not to worry if you haven’t watched either of those shows! We’re here to give you the download of our favourite pollinators.
We’re encouraging you to leave the past in the past and learn to love the bees! We explain how bees are literally helping us thrive and why pesticides are a major buzzkill (LITERALLY) and how something as simple as supporting organic farming methods can make a BIG difference.
pollination by bees
Without cross-pollination, 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants would likely cease to exist. And that’s being conservative!1
Bees, also keep our economy buzzing. They bring in more than $4.6 billion to the Canadian economy, every year.2 In the US over $15 billion in crops are pollinated by bees, annually.3
We would not be able to sustain our food, economy or environment without bees.
Why pollination matters
Not everyone is aware of the specifics behind pollination. Essentially, there are many plants that require animal intervention to reproduce. Birds, bees and other insects help plants reproduce.
The cool thing is, there’s something special about bees and their pollination method. They actually focus their energy on one specific species of plant, at one time. This tactic allows a much higher quality of pollination to occur, with a great success rate.4
pesticide toxicity to bees
According to the Greenpeace Organization biologists have found over 150 different chemical residues in Bee Pollen.5 ‘A pesticide cocktail’ is how one scientist describes this. 5 Pesticides have been linked to health problems and environmental destruction.6,7 We’re not surprised to hear they’re also responsible for early death in wild and honey bees.8 Could pesticides be to blame for the increase in deaths and dwindling numbers in the bee population?
Two studies published in 2017 suggest the levels of pesticides or rather neonicotinoids (an insecticide that’s meant to kill insects) slowly kills off bees overtime rather than eradicating entire colonies all at once.8,9,10 This happens because of the way the chemicals harm the bees. These chemicals hurt Queen bees which lower reproduction. So, you might not see the devastating effects of the pesticides right away.
Some pesticides target the bee’s immune systems by making them defenceless against viruses.11 Pesticides are also said to be responsible for the bee crisis known as Colony Collapse Disorder. 18
Colony Collapse Disorder is what researches are calling a widespread crisis when perfectly healthy bees leave their hive and the queen in mass, and never come back.3 Beekeepers in the US estimate that from 2006 – 2011 nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the US had vanished. 3 Pesticides, global warming, and habitat loss are what experts deem to be the main causes.
So how do pesticides lead to Colon Collapse Disorder directly? Studies show that the pesticide mentioned above; neonicotinoids, affect the way bees navigate, function, learn and gather food.12 This could be part of the reason why large numbers of them are leaving because these chemicals are attacking them and forcing them out.
The good news
According to the Canadian Honey Council:
“Despite higher than normal wintering losses during recent years, Canadian beekeepers have been successfully able to replace their annual dead colonies and increase the number of colonies. They increased the number of bee colonies from 589,254 in 2007 to 750,155 in 2016. This represents an increase in the total number of bee colonies by 27.3% during this period in Canada.”13
The organic market in Canada is rapidly growing, meaning the demand for organic farming is too!14 Organic farming helps bees in 2 very BIG ways:
- No exposure to harmful toxins, chemicals or pesticides. Meaning none of the bad side effects outlined above!
- There’s no toxic harm to the biodiversity of their environment. Additionally, organic farmers are required to manage their farms in such a way that maintains and improves the natural resources surrounding them. This means the bees get access to a more natural, diverse and thriving area for food and pollination.15
Organic Farming also has a ton of other great benefits. Read more about it here.
how to help bees
Vote with your dollar:
On a personal level; support local beekeepers! If you are going to buy honey, buy from a sustainable, local source where you can ask questions about how the bees are being treated. At Pranin Organic we believe in saying NO to products created by animals because the mass food production systems in North America don’t value them as living things, and treat them very inhumanely. But, if you choose to eat honey, there are sustainable sources out there, much better for bees and the planet, compared to supporting mass corporations that abuse bees for profits alone.
If you’re looking to cut out honey and bee pollen altogether, our Huney Smoothie with pine pollen will help you find the right Bee-licious substitutes in the kitchen.
Plant a flourishing bee garden:
If you live in Canada, get your free seed packet from Bees Matter: “Every Buzzing Gardens seed kit contains seed from five non-invasive varieties of flowering plants that are native to Canada and recommended by Pollinator Partnership Canada.” These flowers will help give bees the nutritious pollen needed to keep their colony alive in the winter months.
If you don’t live in Canada, research what non-invasive, native flowers you should consider planting. This will vary by region, so reach out to a local beekeeper or an expert online!
Politically you can stay active to help the bees. Generate some buzz about the cause by reaching out to your local representative who can rally at the federal level for the bees. In Canada, this would be your Member of Parliament. You can find your MP’s contact information by typing your postal code into this government website. Email and call them to explain why organic farming needs to be prioritized, and push them to present legislation that will put the onus of habitat destruction and organic farming on the large corporations and pesticide companies that are hurting bees.
Yes, individual accountability is important, but we can’t ignore the multi-billion dollar industries that are destroying the environment leading to bee habitat loss.16,17 You can also suggest financial incentives to be introduced to farmers in order to make the switch from conventional to organic farming less cost prohibitive.
Ultimately the politics around pesticides, food, and agriculture are complicated and always involve money. It’s not going to be an overnight success by any means, but pushing your representatives, reaching out to your community and encouraging everyone to get involved will certainly help. Be(e) active, buy active and spread the buzz!!
Have any tips that we may have missed in this article? Share them with us! We’re @praninorganic on all social channels, so share your bee tips with us! And tag us in those bee garden pics.
1 – Gabriela Chavarria, “Pollinator Conservation,” Renewable Resources Journal, Winter 1999-2000.
10 – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1395
15 – https://www.organic-center.org/bee-pollinator-health/
16 – https://b8f65cb373b1b7b15feb-c70d8ead6ced550b4d987d7c03fcdd1d.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/cms/reports/documents/000/002/327/original/Carbon-Majors-Report-2017.pdf?1499691240
17 – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/20/90-companies-man-made-global-warming-emissions-climate-change