That's all. What? Yes, bees! It's not enough to just love bees because they're awesome? There has to be some reason I'm writing this blog other than the fact that I just love them? Oh, you want an explanation? Ok, fine, I'll give you an explanation:
2. "Almost 80% of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products require pollination by animals." (fs.fed.us)
3. Flowering plants provide oxygen, and help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (fs.fed.us). No pollination, no flowering plants, no oxygen.
4. "Today 1,000 of the 1,330 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, condiments, [spices], and medicines depend on pollinators to help them reproduce and develop healthy, viable seeds and fruits" (fs.fed.us).
5. More than 150 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops (fs.fed.us).
6. "The abundance of four common species of bumblebee in the US has dropped by 96% in just the past few decades, according to the most comprehensive national census of the insects." (guardian.co.uk)
7. "Factors which could contribute to declines include: improper use of pesticides and herbicides; habitat fragmentation, loss, and degradation causing a reduction of food sources and sites for mating, nesting, roosting, and migration; aggressive competition from non-native species; disease, predators, and parasites; climate change; and lack of floral diversity." (pollinator.org)
8. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and that the honey bee is responsible for 80 percent of this pollination." (ebeehoney.com)
9. When two different species coexist in a mutually beneficial way (such as plants providing fruits that give animals vitamins in exchange for an animal brushing up against it, gathering pollen, and transferring it to another plant to fertilize), this is called mutualism. This harmonized relationship has existed for centuries, and is one we should be nurturing.
So why am I pointing them out? Because they aren't doing so hot. Several of the factors listed in 7. are causing bees to die out in rapid fashion. This is bad news Bears. Can you imaging what would happen to the U.S. food crops without a strong pollinator like bees? What about the Staph bug running amok in major cities? Not. Cool.
I love them. And you should too if you know what's good for ya. Whether it's related to our food supply, fighting disease, or just plain enjoying the honey they produce, bees are as important to our ecosystem as oxygen.
Charlie Wenk and Clyde Eggett are local beekeepers in the Chicago suburbs. Charlie harvests honey from his back yard and from several locations in the suburbs, and knows a thing or two about the benefits of bees. He is friends with my parents and has told them whenever they need help with bees he'd come out and give it a gander. Get yourself a Charlie or a Clyde to help you figure out whether or not your little buzzer buddies are friends or foes before you decide to run them out.
For more about Charlie and Clyde, check out this article from mysuburbanlife.com.
Check out this list of beekeepers in Illinois: Illinois beekeepers
Thanks to lightmsgs.files.wordpress.com and townipproject09.wikispaces.com for the bee pictures! Thanks to acreagelife.com for the walnut photo. Thanks to lifetimefitness.mylt.com for the spice shot. Thanks to whataretheywaitingfor.com for the burning earth picture. And thanks to honeylocator.com for the gorgeous honey shot! Grazie mille!