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Save the Bees: The Importance of Bees to Farmers and Their Crops

Perhaps nature’s most recognized symbiotic relationship is the bond between remora fish and sharks.

Not familiar with this dynamic duo? Well, let’s start off by quickly defining a symbiotic relationship, which is a special connection between two or more animals that mutually benefit from that relationship.

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In the case of the remora fish and sharks, the remora latches onto the body of a shark with its suction-like mouth, going everywhere the shark goes. The remora feeds off parasites, getting a free meal along with the ride. And if that deal isn’t sweet enough for the remora, sticking close to the feared hunter keeps it safe from the ocean’s other predators. The shark benefits from its passenger by getting the parasites removed from its body and teeth, keeping it clean and healthy.

This is one of many symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom.

One such relationship that affects people and their diets worldwide, is the common bee and agricultural crops.

Known as a pest, or one to run from thanks to their stinger, the bee is the Rodney Dangerfield of insects: they get no respect as a vital part of our ecosystem and food security.

So why are bees important to us, particularly farmers?

Honey bees are machines, able to travel huge distances to collect and deliver pollen. Without their marathon-like abilities, we wouldn’t enjoy fruits and vegetables like pumpkins, apples, and cucumbers. Having the pollen delivered consistently to crops produces a much higher yield; if there were no pollinators roaming the fields, the number of viable crops for consumption would drop dramatically. The need for high yield crops grows every year, alongside the demand from growing human populations. Wind and other small creatures can pollinate, but nothing close to the reach and efficiency of the bee.

And bees don’t play a small role in a select few farmers’ fields in North America. The importance of bees can’t be understated: they’re as integral to the crops as the farmers who plant them are. To put the importance of bees into perspective: bees pollinated an estimated $40 billion worth of agricultural crops produced in the U.S. last year. That equates to every third bite of fruits or vegetables on your plate coming courtesy our pollinators, underlining why bees are important to us.

The problem now is we’re in the midst of a bee epidemic. Bee colonies are suffering from Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is the fancy term for saying ‘bees are becoming extinct’. It’s been difficult to pinpoint the cause of the sudden bee population decline – increased pesticide use, viruses, shrinking habitats have been mentioned – though the parasite Varroa destructor mite is the likely culprit. The mites are resistant to pesticides beekeepers use, giving them free reign to terrorize bee hives; they’ve also been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder.

If nothing is done to save the bees, we lose the one organism that truly dictates food prices. More than 130 fruits and veggies we regularly consume involve cross-pollination from bees; without our pollinators, all of those produce prices would soar being now-premium products. We may even lose some crops altogether if we don’t save the bees; uber-healthy foods like almonds and blueberries are almost entirely dependent on cross pollination.

Bee populations declined by 42% last year compared to 2014 in the States, resulting in a $30 billion loss in crop revenue. That devastating loss to farmers and the agricultural business will reach the consumer sooner rather than later. That effects not only what you’re picking up at the grocery store, but when you go out for a bite at a restaurant, too. Even putting food prices aside, meeting the demand of the world’s need for plentiful fruits and veggies will be impossible, decreasing overall health on our planet.

Physicist Albert Einstein once said, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.” If we don’t act quickly to prevent bee extinction, we’ll find out if he’s right – one way or the other. 

While we must save the bees and prevent Colony Collapse Disorder from leading to bee extinction, wasps and hornets are still notorious pests around the household. If wasps have entered your home, or you have wasp hive problems around your property, don’t take on a dangerous situation solo.

If you need help with wasp removal, call the experts at Magical Pest Control at 905-738-6676 or send us a message for a free phone consultation.

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