Some people get their news from fancy newspapers and high falutin' websites, and some, if you're like me, learn things from the lid of a pint of Haagen-Dazs. Would that I were kidding, this is the truth folks: did you know that honey bees are disappearing like size 8 shoes at a sale? It's true. And without bees to pollinate the plants producing our fruits, vegetables, nuts — you know, the good stuff — we're about to get pretty hungry.
Since 2006, honeybees began to mysteriously disappear from their colonies destroying nearly a third of US hives — and the rate of decline is increasing, reaching 36 percent last Winter. About a third of our food sources require pollination, and plants cannot grow without it. During a hearing by the House subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, one expert asked the very worrying question: “How would our federal government respond if one out of every three cows was dying?” To see what might be behind this bee-witching development, read more.
Because this phenomena is fairly recent, research and the money to do so have yet to blossom; though money is starting to roll in as the repercussions of this decline in pollination are beginning to be fully realized. Although no conclusive data has been ascertained, scientists suspect several culprits, among them:
- Loss of habitat and a combination of pesticides that disrupt the bees neurology. One study of 108 pollen samples exposed 46 pesticides and as many as 17 in one sample.
- Single crop cultures create a so-called “floral desert” with little diversity. One of these floral deserts is the 660,000 thousand acres in the San Joaquin Valley that offers cross-pollinators only almond trees as their only diet. It's like gorging yourself on hamburgers for a month and then starving the rest of the year. Not so great for productivity.
Here's where the ice cream comes in: Haagen Dazs is attempting to alert the public to this crisis and is awarding a $250,000 grant to UC Davis and the University of Pennsylvania. They’ve also started a public education campaign and have begun making a limited (hopefully) edition flavor called Vanilla Honey Bee in the hope to distribute 1 million flower seeds to groups and individuals to plant flora that will aid native pollinators.
Now that might have some people buzzing. Where have all the flowers (and bees!) gone? Come back, busy bees!