Syndicated Column: EcoHealthy Living

By Patricia Dines

Sample column

For more information about EcoHealthy Living, and carrying this column in your publication, see the main EcoHealthy Living page.

Feeding the Bees
By Patricia Dines
(c) Patricia Dines, 2007. All rights reserved.
Sitting on my little back deck, I love watching the thick black bees feeding on my potted lavender and sage. As the flower stalks drift in the wind, I see each bee buzz up, catch a little blossom, take a tiny sip, then buzz to the next blossom and repeat. For a moment, I'm mesmerized by this meditative dance, delighted that my flowers are contributing to nature's functioning. I imagine the bees buzzing back to their hives and feeding their scented-treasures to their hungry tribes.
This scene has become even more poignant to me recently, as I read about how the long-standing threats to our nation's bees have become dire enough to finally reach the mainstream press. A recent AP article starts, "Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a glorified bread-and-water diet."
Honeybees' pollination is essential to much of what we eat, including many of our tastiest foods, such as apples, peaches, strawberries, avocados, broccoli, and much more. Even cattle (feeding on alfalfa) and chocolate (from the cacao plant) depend on bees. According to a Congressional study, honeybees add $15 billion a year in value to our food supply.
However, bees are now dying at increasingly alarming rates. In the past few months, U.S. beekeepers have lost one-quarter of their colonies due to "Colony Collapse Disorder." A USDA official wonders if bees can weather this storm at all.
What is killing the bees? Causes discussed include toxics, natural habitat destruction, the stress of industrial beekeeping, GMO's toxic pollen, and cell phone radiation. The AP author says it could be that the bees' genes "do not equip them to fight poisons and disease very well." How interesting to blame the bees' genes, not ourselves, for the harm caused by man-made toxics that are known to both kill and weaken bees, making them more vulnerable to disease.
Often we're told that we need to use toxic pesticides to grow food, feed people, and save money. But the bees' deaths reveal the flaws in this math. A beekeeper I once interviewed said, "If you want expensive food, try having no bees."
It seems clear to me that we're contributing to the bees' demise and thus need to change our ways if we want to save the bees, feed ourselves, and experience nature's wonder.
You can help nurture the bees by: avoiding toxics, planting native flowers, protecting habitat, and buying organic food and honey from the farmers who let the bees live in natural harmony.
Patricia Dines is Author of The Organic Guide to Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter, which gently educates readers about toxics and alternatives.

Have questions about going green? Email them to <info [at]> with "EcoHealthy Living" in the subject line. We will let you know if we cover your topic in future columns.

EcoHealthy Living is a syndicated column. Contact Ms. Dines for information about carrying it in your periodical.

SOURCES: "Honeybee die-off threatens food supply," < die_off_6> • "A world without bees is a world without chocolate," <>

This entire website is (c) Patricia Dines, 1998-2007. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 08/04/07