Honey bees—wild and domestic—perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees.
Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops—which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition—are pollinated by bees.
Typically, a bee hive or colony will decline by 5-10 percent over the winter, and replace those lost bees in the spring. In a bad year, a bee colony might lose 15-20 percent of its bees.
In the US winter losses have commonly reached 30-50 percent, in some cases more, scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors—pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming and more. Many of these causes are interrelated.
We know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: pesticides and habitat loss.
Biologists have found more than 150 different chemical residues in bee pollen, a deadly “pesticide cocktail”. The chemical companies Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow, DuPont and Monsanto shrug their shoulders at the systemic complexity, as if the mystery were too complicated. They advocate no change in pesticide policy. After all, selling poisons to the world’s farmers is profitable, they control nearly 100% of the world market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.
Furthermore, wild bee habitat shrinks every year as industrial agribusiness converts grasslands and forest into mono-culture farms, which are then contaminated with pesticides.
To reverse the world bee decline, we need to fix our dysfunctional and destructive agricultural system.