Thursday, October 22, 2009

To BEE or Not To BEE

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”
-Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was not a naturalist, but he certainly knew how closely human beings were tied to the bee. The ecosystems of the planet are so closely integrated, yet most of the so-called civilized world still hasn’t seemed to grasp this fact. Native Americans and other indigenous cultures around the world not only were aware of the importance of our interconnectedness between all species, they honored all beings on this planet as sentient and part of the universal community. The white man showed up and decided that the Indians were the uncivilized ones and nearly destroyed these people who should have been our ancestors’ teachers.

All these many years later, we are paying the price. It has been estimated that nearly 90% of the bee population has vanished from the planet and many that remain are unhealthy. Bees are not finding their way home back to the hive. When they do they are often not recognized by the other members of the colony. The Queen might be found in the hive with only a few young worker bees, not the thriving community of days past.

Why are the bees becoming extinct? The first culprit is a threatening mite has been attaching itself to the throat of bees. Like a fictional vampire, it sucks the blood, leaving many bees dead. Another cause for the destruction of bee colonies is, of course, man-made. Our agricultural practices of the 20th and 21st centuries are all about making a buck. Unfortunately, we are not taking into account the needs of the other ecosystems.

Instead of rotating crops on an annual basis, giving the earth an opportunity to breathe and re-nourish itself, we are using and reusing the same land over and over again. This process simply depletes the food and thereby us and all the other animals of proper nutritional value. An apple of thirty years ago is not the apple of today.

In addition, we are utilizing chemicals to kill as many pests as possible. The suffix ‘-icide’ literally means the act of killing. The chemicals used are not only killing off unwanted pests, they are killing off bees, not to mention the fact that poison is poison and it is not good for us either.

Why are bees so important to us? Most obviously, they provide honey, a natural food source for humans. Honey is not only used to sweeten your morning cup of tea, it has natural healing properties used in many holistic remedies; and the connection doesn’t stop there.

Bees are the number one pollinators in the planet. Simply by landing on a flower, the bee starts the pollination process. Tiny dense hairs on the legs of the bee collect the necessary pollen. The bee then takes the succulent nectar from a flower and moves on to its next destination dropping pollen on the stigma of the new plant, giving it the ability to reproduce.

Let’s say for a moment that the bees are all gone. How would that affect us? If bees did not exist to aid in the pollination process many of crops would become extinct. We don’t just need farmers to keep the crops alive. We need the pollinators. Without the crops, many animal species would die off as well, eliminating more of our food sources. Without one link in the chain, many links will die off.

Bee extinction is not just a problem of our food supply. Plants and trees are fundamental to our breathing. We take in a breath of oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide. The vegetation on the planet breathes in the carbon dioxide and breathes out the oxygen which we need to survive. Without the bees to pollinate our flora, we will not have enough trees and plants to keep us breathing.

There are nearly seven billion people living on this planet. We are sucking out every last bit of our natural resources leaving a depleted planet. Managing the way we treat the Earth and all its inhabitants should be top priority in our way of thinking, not the earning of the ubiquitous dollar. Without life, what does the meaning of the dollar mean anyway?

Next time you are enjoying a picnic with friends on a hot summer day, remember how important the bee is to us before swatting it away. They are our friends.

Thank you for reading and Namaste! (The Light in me recognizes the Light in you!)

Please note: There are many worthwhile organizations one can send donations to in order to help save the bees, including U.C. Davis which has a Department of Etymology which has a Honeybee Research division.


Honey Bee Crisis and Biodiversity

What Would Happen if Bees Disappeared?

Endangered Honey Bees

Seven Colony Collapse Disorder

The Bee’s Role in the Pollination Process

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