You wake up to the heavenly scent of coffee brewing in the kitchen, and a freshly tossed fruit salad awaits you at the table. Next, you catch a whiff of the aroma of a chocolate cake being baked in the oven.
Now, that sounded truly delectable, didn't it? What if we told you that with the extinction of one tiny insect, these delicacies would perish too! Those tiny insects are the bees, without whom much of the food that we enjoy today would be off the table. Albert Einstein himself stated that if the bees disappeared from the surface of the earth, the human race would follow in four years.
Albert Einstein himself stated that if the bees disappeared from the surface of the earth, the human race would follow in four years.
Why are bees so critical for our survival?
Bees are one of the most important allies of human beings. Bees are generally viewed as honey-producers and unwanted pests due to their sometimes fatal stings. However, they are the world's greatest pollinators. They pollinate 80 percent of the world's food crops and there are numerous industries dependent upon bee pollination. The revenue generated by bees globally is valued in billions. Some of the industries dependent upon bee pollination are agriculture, dairy, meat, cosmetics, honey, oilseeds, and clothing. In India, where the agricultural, textile, and oilseed industries bring in most of our national revenue, bees are a significant addition to our lives.
But, due to a very unfortunate phenomenon, namely CCD, bee population is experiencing a major decline in the past decade. No, not Cafe Coffee Day! Colony Collapse Disorder.
What is Colony Collapse Disorder?
In this hapless occurrence, the majority of worker bees in a colony are wiped out, leaving behind the queen and a few nurse bees along with heaps of unwanted food.
The main causes for this happening are agricultural pesticides and insecticides, parasites such as the varroa mite and nosema ceranae, GMO production, lack of nutrition and habitat, cell phone radiation, and global warming.
Colony Collapse Disorder has already caused drastic ecological and economical impacts around the world. For example, in California, many almond farmers hire bees from Europe to pollinate their almond trees as the United States has reported a severe decline in bee population due to CCD. Without the service of the bees, California would not be able to produce its famous high quality almonds.
In India too, the effects of CCD are on the rise. Although the local Cerana variety of bees contribute towards pollination, there has been a noticeable decline in their population. It is only a matter of time before we are in serious trouble. It will spell disaster to our economy. Many pesticides and fertilisers which harm the bees have been banned in other parts of the world, but are still being used in our country.
Even though the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is supposed to protect bees, they are easily and ruthlessly wiped out. Especially in urban India, with the increase in population and deforestation, bees build their hives in high-rise buildings as they have no other options. They are fumigated or smoked out without a thought, leading to the death of millions of bee colonies.
Many pesticides and fertilisers which harm the bees have been banned in other parts of the world, but are still being used in our country.
Some very simple things that we can all do to protect our striped friends are:
1. Plant bee-attracting flowers and do not remove weeds from your garden.
2. Support organic farmers and say NO to pesticides and fertilisers. Do not buy genetically modified products or those containing GM ingredients.
3. Provide water in a tiny bowl for thirsty bees and save them from dehydration, especially during the summer.
4. Invest in a bee-box and become a backyard bee-keeper. The Cerana variety of bees, which can be domesticated, are great pollinators. And, they are harmless!
5. If you locate a bee-hive in your neighbourhood, do not call on pest control as they will harm the bees. Instead, call an ethical beekeeper who will know a safe method of relocating the colony.
6. Spread awareness!
Flaming Phoenix is comprised of six high-spirited, young environmentalists (Rachita Rajesh, Sahana Athreya, Aditya Vasisht, Aditya Uchill, Akshay B. Sivaraman, and Ratan Shankar) who are students of grades eight and nine from Greenwood High International School, Bengaluru. Our team has an undying passion to save our winged friends by spreading awareness about their important role in our lives.