19 Crops That Would Disappear Without Bees

And the gaping hole they would leave on the dinner table

Bee Hives
iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Without the pollinating power of honeybees, we would "bee" in a barren world, without many of our favorite fruits and vegetables.

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate and continue to vanish without a trace.

Why should anyone care? Well, they matter a lot more than most people would think. With summer upon us, it’s exciting to see the reemergence of some of our favorite produce, including stone fruit, peppers, sweet, juicy melons, and succulent strawberries. But what if the arrival of these crops each summer were to come to an end?

Click here to see the 19 Crops That Would Disappear Without Bees Slideshow

Honeybees, among other pollinators such as bats, birds, butterflies, and bumblebees, are responsible in one way or another for the pollination of approximately 100 crops, according to Dr. Reese Halter, Ph.D., author of The Incomparable Honeybee and distinguished conservation biologist. And they’re not just the fruits of summer; imagine a Thanksgiving, for example, without sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie.

However, the implications of the disappearance of honeybees are not just gastronomic; they are also economic in scope, and in that respect, the scale is significant. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), more than $15 billion worth of crops are pollinated by bees each year just in the United States alone. Put another way, one of every three bites of food Americans consume comes from a plant visited by bees or other pollinators.

The problem was first observed in France in 1994, following the debut of a new type of pesticide by Bayer, dubbed Gaucho, which was first used on sunflower crops. Gaucho was part of a new class of pesticides known as systemic pesticides, or as Halter refers to them, neonicotinoids.

Bees collecting pollen from sunflowers treated with Gaucho exhibited confused and nervous behavior; thus, the phenomenon was initially termed the "mad bee disease" — the bees, according to Halter, were literally "shaking to death." Furthermore, the bees abandoned their hives, never to return, leaving only the queen behind. Following massive protests by farmers, the French government suspended the use of the pesticide.

In the United States, the phenomenon was first observed in 2006 by a beekeeper, David Hackenberg. Hackenberg and his fellow beekeeper David Mendes testified before Congress about a problem that had become widespread, by then termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) by scientists. No longer were people chalking it up to bad beekeeping; everyone was experiencing the same rapid, catastrophic declines in hive populations in 35 states. And no one could explain why.



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6 Comments

tdm-35-icon.png

Save the Bees. Stop using pesticides!!!!!

2letitbee - April Morgano's picture

I would like to thank you for running this story regarding the honey bees. My name is April Morgano I am the founder of the 2 Let It Bee, Inc. - The Honey Bee Revitalization Project. We try to educate people on the importance of honey bees everyday and the impact it would have on the human race if the disappeared.

August 18th is National Honey Bee day and it would be great if you could run articles pertaining to the honey bee all that week. Education and Information is the key to the honey bee's survival.

April Morgano

tdm-35-icon.png

So these pesticides are the DDT of the insect world, then. Who's writing this generation's "Silent Spring"?

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About the bees - check out our good friends at Monsanto, eager to invent all they can to increase profits and executive bonuses. Also Bayer and their interesting WW II connection with I G Farben to produce something called Zyklon B.
Now they make fine, but way overpriced, aspirin.

Will Budiaman's picture

Thanks for the feedback. Would definitely like to do an article on Monsanto in the future, time permitting.

tdm-35-icon.png

About the bees - check out our good friends at Monsanto, eager to invent all they can to increase profits and executive bonuses. Also Bayer and their interesting WW II connection with I G Farben to produce something called Zyklon B.
Now they make fine, but way overpriced, aspirin.

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