Part of our series of student blog posts. This post comes from student Amanda Neubelt. Amanda was in the course “Strategic Writing for Public Communications,” part of UVM’s Community Development and Applied Economics Program.
What’s all the buzz about bees?
For millions of years honeybees have played a vital role in the plant life cycle. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating over a third of our food supply and 90% of wild plants, as well as the multi-million dollar raw honey industry. However, tragically, honeybees are on the decline. Since 1990 In the U.S. alone, over 25% of managed honey bee populations have disappeared. Without the essential cross pollination provided by bees (which mind you, travel emission free), crops suffer and eventually die off completely. Sadly, this is already happening in many areas of the world. The decline of honey bees has been a catalyst with catastrophic consequences. In the winter of 2006/2007, tens of billions of bees were lost in the U.S. The loss was projected to have an $8-$12 billion effect on U.S. agricultural economy.
Why the decline in honey bees?
Many believe that the increased use of pesticides and herbicides (which bees ingest during pollination) has played a large role in the decline of bee populations. Genetically modified crops could also be to blame, as pollen from these plants may have a compromised nutritional value. Climate change could also be a factor to consider, as biologists have found a link between rising temperatures and growth rates of pathogens that destroy colonies. Studies have also been done to show the negative effects of cell phone tower radiation and its impact on bee navigation.
What can you do?
There are many things you can do to help revitalize the honeybee population! First- buy organic! Second- create your own bee haven in your garden! Third- buy your own honeybee colony and send it to someone in need! You can do that?? YES! An international non-profit known as Heifer, has created a unique opportunity to help save the honeybees. For a small fee, you can purchase a package of bees, the box, hive, and training on beekeeping and send it to a family in need. The bees can become a supplement to the families income (if not their main livelihood), and strategically placed beehives can double the yield in some fruit and vegetable production.
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