June 25, 2013 Harnessing hope: Helping bees this springtime
For over 100 million years nature has relied upon bees of various breeds—honey, stingless, bumble and solitary—to pollinate the lion’s share of the more than 204,000 flowering plants on Earth.
Each year, bees give us most of our food crops, the cotton we wear, 2.2 billion pounds of honey and 44 million pounds of beeswax.
Here’s what else the benevolent bees are doing to help humankind:
They are advancing space travel by showing NASA scientists the minimum atmospheric pressure necessary to pollinate tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers and about 90 other plants including cotton in order for us to explore the final frontier.
They have extraordinary brains with a capacity for processing complex information, including clearly distinguishing between a Monet and a Picasso. Bee brains are sophisticated, inspiring faster computer networks and the first flying robots.
Like humans, bees have personalities. Some are thrill seekers—constantly searching for new adventures. People and bees alike enjoy caffeine, nicotine and the privilege of voting. We both need a good night’s sleep in order to learn better in the morning. Without sleep, we both miscommunicate. When we age, sadly, both of us lose our memories.
Honeybee venom offers powerful pain relief for millions suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Recently, it was shown to kill the HIV virus. Bee venom is also highly sought after in anti-aging facials. A potent compound made from tree resins and a bee enzyme called propolis, used as glue in the hive, successfully treats cold sores and is a co-treatment for prostate cancer.
Honeybees with fitted microchips are helping to locate TNT residue, the explosive component from landmines. The Red Cross estimates that between 80 million and 120 million landmines exist in 70 countries, maiming 22,000 people (mostly children) each year.
Alarmingly, 325 billion honeybees have died in the last five years. The bee world is in crisis. Diseases, mites, bee husbandry, poor nutrition, climate change and insecticides have all collided to cause this global catastrophe.
People are becoming aware that bees are very sick. Thankfully, European countries are providing leadership, preventing lethal neonicotinoids (a group of insecticides) from being applied to some crop seeds.
Forward-thinking companies like Google, Herman Miller and Intel, are keeping beehives on their campuses helping educate their suppliers, workers and communities about the importance of honeybees.
From the rooftop of the Vienna Opera House to the South Lawn at the White House, urban beekeepers are providing bees to ensure our urban trees and plants remain healthy.
It is time to harness the ‘loving wave of hope’; this spring, plant bee-friendly gardens and help our incomparable friends the bees thrive!
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2013. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Conservation International, Defenders of Wildlife, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, ellen degeneres, Environmental Defense Fund, greenpeace, honeybees, International Fund Animal Awareness, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London, Los Angeles, Muir Woods National Monument, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Oprah, Peta, Riverkeepers, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sierra Club, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, world wildlife Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park