The holistic purposes of honey have been well-discussed within health communities and many people are familiar with the numerous remedies and benefits from its topical application and consumption. Raw honey, in particular, has been praised for its healthy weight management abilities, countering allergies, being a natural source of energy, and healing wounds. The list of benefits are not the only thing that marks honey’s importance, however. What about the bees that provide this golden elixir for the betterment of our lives? Let’s investigate the ways these warrior bees are crucial to our health and planetary wellness too.
But first..Did you know?
- 1 out of every 3 or 4 bites of food we eat is thanks to these buzzing friends.
- Bees pollinate 80% of the world’s plant crops, including 90 different food crops.
- Americans eat about 1.31 pounds of honey per person every year.
- That one pound of honey is a result of the bees visiting two million flowers, as well as flying 55,000 miles.
Understanding the effort that bees have made into the creation of our honey can give us a great visual the next time we vie for a spoonful of this liquid gold. Even more, it’s important to understand that bees play a pivotal role in how our favorite foods end up on the table and into our mouths. From apples to almonds, and blueberries to broccoli, the humble honey bees make it possible for us to munch on these treats and keep our economy alive.
Yes, bees actually help to keep the economy buzzing.
In fact, more than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by these honey bees and they produce about $150 million in honey annually. But what happens to our economy if the bee population continues to decline? It has been estimated that the global economic cost of bee decline (including lower crop yields and increased production costs) is as high as $5.7 billion per year. Unfortunately, there is now a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder which is wiping out bee populations. This is especially disconcerting as more than 25% of the managed honey bee population in the U.S. have disappeared since 1990.
What’s really wiping out the honey bees?
The Colony Collapse Disorder is attributed to a wide range of factors that are all intricately linked together:
- Global warming. It has caused flowers to bloom much earlier or later than usual. As soon as pollinators awake from hibernation, the flowers they need for food have already bloomed.
- Pesticides. The very toxic pesticides meant to kill pests can harm the honey bees. In fact, there are several pesticides that are legal in the U.S., yet banned in other countries because they harm bees.
- Habitat loss. It can be brought about by development, abandoned farms, and growing crops that do not allow room for wildlife. Even growing gardens with flowers that are not pollinator-friendly can contribute to habitat loss.
- Parasites. Icky insects such as the bloodthirsty vampire mite actually feed on bees and have lead to them dying off in droves.
How Do We Save The Bees?
Despite the seriousness of the bee’s colony collapse, there are simple action steps we can take to help preserve our honey bee friends and promote a more pollinator-friendly planet for them. Here are 3 small ways we can help the bees big time:
- Ditch the mulch. It’s important to leave a little ground bare in your yard or garden. Bees are solitary creatures and 70% of them dig a nest in the ground to raise their young. Keep clear of the mulch (if you can) so the bees can raise their young!
- Skip the chemicals. Many pesticides (Neonicotinoids in particular) have been linked to killing bees and hurting their ability to reproduce. Instead of spraying the toxic chemicals that hurt our health and detriment the atmosphere, look for plants that naturally repel pests such as garlic for aphids, or basil for tomatoes. Ultimately, avoiding the bad ingredient bottles will help to nurture and protect the soil’s biome–another way to keep plant’s immune systems strong and bees coming back for more.
- Go loco for local honey. Every time you purchase some raw, local honey you are supporting local beekeepers and their bees. What makes raw, unheated honey so great? It’s unpasteurized and undiluted which means it’s simply brimming with antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes.
If bees impact nearly every bite of food we take, it’s particularly important that we raise our honey dippers and reimagine ways to support our local pollinator friends.
Spread the news, seek out local honey spots, and say goodbye to the toxic chemicals that betray the bees.