The first time I read that bees were disappearing was in the year 2003. Farmers in France were using cheap pesticides that were illegally imported and illegally sold. Some of the farmers were caught adding engine oil and/or bleach to the pesticides for greater effect. The magazine Marianne reported that millions of bees were being killed by these poisons. One beekeeper lost 450 hives which amounted to 22 million bees. The people of France were deeply concerned; “Will we be able to eat any French honey, ten years from now?” they asked.
More than 85% of earth’s flowering plants are pollinated by bees and bees contribute to 60% of the planet’s food production. Though there are approximately 4000 species of bees native to North America, the one best known to us is the imported European honey bee. This familiar bee is the primary commercial pollinator of agricultural crops in North America and the most actively managed pollinator in the world. It is also the species without legal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (or any other of the species statutes) yet it faces extinction.
Since the 1990s, in various countries around the world, a large number of bee colonies collapsed. Then in 2004, this mysterious phenomenon, made its’ way across the ocean to the United States. Two years later, they named the event “Colony Collapse Disorder”. Ask any American commercial beekeeper about business and he/she will tell you that their once thriving industry is over; that industrial agriculture is destroying the Ecosphere. Biologists continue to warn us that the decline of the honey bee is a catastrophe greater than global warming.
Farmers are confused. They have been convinced that using pesticides is protecting their crops and that the introduction of genetically engineered crops will solve the economic imbalance that now exists. The imbalance is due to the damaged Ecosphere and the damage is caused by the use of pesticides. These pesticides are manufactured by huge major companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta who are also the originators of plants genetically engineered to resist pesticides (their pesticides). The farmers are then persuaded that these new plants need a new pesticide and using it will not only protect their crop, but will also increase the yield per acre. Even though the use of chemicals will destroy the soil and kill the pollinators the reign of pesticides continues. To insure high corporate profits, the same three companies manufactured another line of crops that could produce their own synthetic insecticides. As of today, the imbalance in our global environment has turned into a critical crisis of enormous magnitude and thrust the majority of us into an insufferable battle against Glyphosate which has proven to be more dangerous for us than for bees.
We are in for an awakening. One day the foods we need and enjoy will not be there. More and more farmers have switched crops. Very few of the large farms are growing almonds, apples, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cauliflower, mango, flax, grapes, carrots, fennel, lima beans and so many, many other delicious nutritious fruits and vegetables. The trend today is towards mono-agricultural crops such as corn, soy, and wheat. We are facing malnutrition and starvation on a massive global scale.
Yes, there are other bees and other pollinators, only their stories and statistical information echo the plight of the near extinct Honeybee. Sad to say, pesticides are still extremely popular worldwide. Why? They are increasing crop yields. In 2021, farmers used more than 5.5 billion pounds of weed killer, insecticide and fungicide. Against the warnings of their own scientists, the EPA in 2013, approved the use of an insecticide (Neonicotinoid) co-developed by Bayer which is a risk to non-targeted insects. It wasn’t long before entire colonies of bees were eliminated. Genetic changes were visible in the bees and the surrounding wildlife was becoming ill. In Canada, these neonicotinoid pesticides were being held responsible for the killing of 37 million bees during the spring of 2013. In Poland, genetically engineered corn was banned because it proved too toxic for the bees.
This pesticide is water soluble. It hangs invisible in the air restricting one to shallow breathing. It is capable of causing brain damage in children. It cannot be washed off. It is designed to disrupt the nervous system; damage the immune system. The list goes on and on. Hundreds of reasons to stop the use of pesticides and insecticides on the one side and on the other side?
The one prevailing overriding positive is the increased profit.
One last fact, just one, and we can switch subjects. Monsanto, the maker of pesticides I mentioned in a previous paragraph, is also the manufacturer of Agent Orange and DDT.