The sustainability trend has spawned local production and do-it-yourself initiatives encouraging low-impact lifestyles and supporting local economies. We seem to have taken a step back in time with the rise of backyard chicken farmers, urban agriculture, and home-made products of everything from cheese to pickles. In certain areas, you can now even rent goats to mow your lawn!
Individuals’ interest in harvesting honey from their own beehives has been mainstream in the U.S. for some time. American beekeepers were the ones who first noticed a decline in honey bee populations. News about Colony Collapse Disorder seem to be everywhere these days. Why should this matter to us? Bees and other pollinating insects, such as Monarch butterflies, play an important role in ecosystems. We would not have food and flora without them.
Most of the attention is focused on the European honey bee species, Apis mellifera, and the impact of neonicotinoid – an insecticide – on bee health and their life cycle. Neonicotinoid is widely used in U.S. agriculture. However multiple factors such as chemical treatments, parasites, and crop monocultures are also contributing to the decline of all bee species, not just honey bees, and other pollinators.
We can do something to help encourage pollinator abundance. The U.S. Fish and Game Wildlife Service and the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit with a mission to protect the health of bees, provides information and resources on the subject. If you are afraid of bees, these facts may take the sting out of your fear. Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $14 billion in value to U.S. crop production and some crops are 90% dependent on honey bee pollination.