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article imageDisappearing Pollinators Impact Food Supply

By Bob Ewing     May 2, 2007 in Environment
As much as one-third US food supply will be effected.
Growing food is not a solitary business. The farmer is not out there slugging away, all be her/himself in the fields. You may not see anyone else out there but without the help of a very great number of other beings, the food we eat each day may never make it to our table.
Under the ground their are earthworms and millions of other, ever smaller ,creatures lending their hands to the task. Above the ground there is the weather either helping or hindering the process. And last but most certainly not least, blowing in the wind are the pollinators, the birds and bees going about their calling collecting pollen.
Pollination is essential if food is to set fruit. Or in other terms to begin the reproduction process, as any good gardener or farmer knows growing food or flowers is all about reproduction. Bees are the big players in this game.
About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the USDA.
I have grouped this story with others that have talked about Colony Collapse Disorder. I suggest that if you have not read them, please do so. They provide important information for this very real problem.
Honey bees are not native to North America. They moved here a few centuries back but we have come to be very dependent upon these immigrants. Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have.
Among the the plants that rely on honey bees for their pollination services are: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.
In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Looks bad for vegetarians but that's okay because you eat meat and can get along without these veggies and fruits. Sorry but cattle are often feed alfalfa which is pollinated by the honeybee. The honeybees were in trouble before Colony Collapse Disorder(CCD) hit the scene, What CCD did was make a bad situation worse.
This crisis threatens to wipe out production of crops dependent on bees for pollination," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement. A congressional study said honeybees add about $15 billion a year in value to our food supply.
There have been no decisive response formulated to date. What can we do? Well stock up on can goods. But seriously, if you can grow your own food do so, be sure to include plants such as borage, which bees love, the blue flowers look good in ice cubes and are quite tasty. Make sure to save some for the bees.
Get involved in community greening projects. Help create an environment that will encourage honeybees. Will this work, that I do not know but I prefer to do something than to sit back and moan.
On a more serious note, if there ever was a time to promote small scale local farms that deal directly with the members of the community where they are located, this is it.
More about Declining honeybees, Threat, Food supply
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