Birds and bees are something most of us take
for granted as part of nature.
The expression "teaching about the birds and
the bees" to explain the process of human reproduction to young people
is not an accidental expression. Bees and birds contribute to the
essence of life on our planet.
A study by the US Department of Agriculture
"…perhaps one-third of our total diet is
dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants."
The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most
important pollinator of agricultural crops.
Honey bees pollinate over 70 out of 100
crops that in turn provide 90% of the world’s food. They pollinate most
fruits and vegetables - including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions
But while managed honey bee populations have
increased over the last 50 years, bee colony populations have decreased
significantly in many European and North American nations.
Simultaneously, crops that are dependent on insects for pollination have
The phenomenon has received the curious
designation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), implying it could be
caused by any number of factors. Serious recent scientific studies
however point to a major cause: use of new highly toxic systemic
pesticides in agriculture since about 2004.
If governments in the EU, USA and other countries fail to impose a total
ban on certain chemical insecticides, not only could bees become a thing
of the past. The human species could face staggering new challenges
merely to survive.
The immediate threat comes from the
widespread proliferation of commercial insecticides containing the
highly-toxic chemical with the improbable name, neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides
chemically similar to nicotine. They act on the central nervous system
of insects. But also on bees and small song birds. Recent evidence
suggests they could also affect human brain development in newborn.
Some five to six years back, reports began to circulate from around the
world, especially out of the United States, and then increasingly from
around the EU, especially in the UK, that entire bee colonies were
Since 2004 over a million beehives have died
across the United States and beekeepers in 25 states report what is
called Colony Collapse Disorder. In winter of 2009 an estimated one
fifth of bee hives in the UK were lost, double the natural rate.
Government authorities claimed it was a