Disappearing Honey Bees
Of about 240,000 flowering plants in North America, three quarters require the pollination of a bee, bird, bat or other animal or insect in order to bear fruit.
"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth,
man would have no more than four years to live." ~ Audio
Since many of our food crops – with the exception of grains – are imports, the imported honey bee is key to our food supply. Beyond that, no other pollinator can be collected, moved and unleashed to pollinate fields of crops like commercial beekeepers can do with honey bee colonies.
So losing bees would have repercussions throughout the food supply chain.
“They are so integrated into so many different markets that I imagine there would be all kinds of collapses,” said May Berenbaum, who was chair of the NAS committee that developed the pollinator report.
“To illustrate how pervasive the honey bee is, consider a Big Mac,” she said. “All beef patties, the pickles, onions, lettuce, the cheese, the sesame seeds on the bun – that’s a lot.”
If honey bees in North America disappeared, she said, the price of food would immediately go up, as we would have to rely on more and more imported foods. Poor families would find it hard to eat a nutritious diet.
If all honey bees disappeared worldwide, food would be scarce, as colonies of bees stopped pollinating fruit, nut and vegetable crops. (“Except for grains,” Berenbaum said. “There would be plenty of bread.”)
Honey would disappear from the market, and the surprisingly varied users of wax would be forced to turn to more expensive alternatives. The ripples through the world economy would be profound and prolonged.
If all 7,000-plus species of bees disappeared from the Earth, those ripples would grow into tsunamis ruffling entire ecosystems. In some ecosystems, bees are “keystone” species – a reference to an arch’s top stone, without which both sides collapse.
As the plants that rely on bees died off, species that relied on those plants would suffer, leading to the decline or death of species that rely on them, and so on.
So with pollinators in decline in general, and honey bees doing a disappearing act that could well be unprecedented in magnitude, there is reason for worry.
“That’s the rude awakening on this one,” Berenbaum said. “What may have once been a localized phenomenon could well be a global phenomenon.”
No one's dire statements have quite the authority of Einstein's, but Berenbaum is optimistic that the current wave of public concern about bees could inspire the research and action needed to preserve an important, if underappreciated, player in the world's food web. ~ Source
Linda Moulton Howe interview on Coast2Coast - January 21, 2012
Uploaded by Boomdaddy01 on Jan 21, 2012
Reposted May 6, 2012 - KnowTheLies