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
- 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
- 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] patriciadines.info> with "EcoHealthy Living" in the
subject line. We will let you know if we cover your topic in future
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
This entire website is (c) Patricia
Dines, 1998-2007. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 08/04/07