The bees and the almonds, a love story.
Guest blog post by: Carly Stein, Founder of Beekeeper's Naturals
The bees and the almonds, a love story. Unless you've been living under a rock, you likely have heard a thing or two about the issues affecting our bees. Bees pollinate 70 of the world’s 100 most important food crops and they have been dying off at a rapid pace. Since 2006 we have seen international bee populations getting decimated and the epidemic is not over. A typical over winter hive loss in North America was only 10-15%. Yet in 2016 we saw a devastating 44% of managed honeybee colonies die (with a 28% mortality rate in the summer, which is when bees should be at their healthiest!). This is definitely not okay...bees play a very important role in our food production and environment. Nearly every third bite of food you take is bee pollinated not to mention a large percentage of wildflowers that are pillars of local ecosystems! If we lose the bees we are looking at a near $30 billion dollar annual loss to our agricultural system and lasting effects on the food supply. This is clearly a problem we can no longer ignore.
We all love almonds, from butter to pizza crusts. Annually, Americans eat about around 1.5 pounds of almonds per person! That’s a lot of nuts and the popularity of this nutrient dense darling is only growing. Just as we love almonds, almonds love honeybees, who are the main almond pollinators and the reason the plants grow. Almonds are a type of plant that cannot self-fertilize so they rely on insects to do the dirty work for them. As bees fly around from almond flower to almond flower, they transfer pollen from the male to female part of the plants and basically help the plant get it on and get growing. Without the bees almond plants would have no way of reproducing and supplying us with our fave nuts!
The majority of the world's almond supply comes from California and as demand for the super nut grows, we are starting to see the effects of the bee decline hit the almond producers where it hurts. Land devoted to growing almonds has grown by 50% since 2005 and with that we need more bees to hook it up in the crops. Almond popularity is on the rise and bee populations are in decline, you see the issue here. Every time a farmer adds another acre of land to increase their almond yield, they need another two bee hives to help pollinate those almond flowers. These precious and scarce bees don't come cheap either - almond growers are paying around $165 to $200 per hive which has significantly increased from a decade ago as we see bees decline.
This issue is not to be taken lightly, we need to act now and move fast to save the bees (and almonds!) but there is hope.
What you can do to save the bees:
1. Plant o Some of the main culprits in the bee decline are pesticide use and loss of habitat. By planting organic and untreated seeds in your garden you are providing our bees with a much needed clean source of food to help them thrive.
2. Support local and organic growers o Again with the pesticides. The rampant use of pesticides across the country, specifically a nasty class of pesticides called Neonicotinoids, are harming our bees. It’s important that we use our wallets to support farmers and people who are growing things in the right way and deciding against dosing their crops in chemical pesticides to create a more natural and sustainable habitat. Hit up the farmers market, buy organic when possible and support local producers who are making the effort to do things the right way!
3. Support companies and organizations who are saving the bees o There are plenty of organizations looking to help the cause. At Beekeeper’s Naturals we’re partnered with one of the country's top bee research facilities - University of California Davis Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. You can donate directly through our site or check out our “Save the Bees” gear, which supports the amazing team at UC Davis performing cutting‐edge research helping us to learn more about how to save the bees!
4. Spread the word! o Tell your friends, family, hashtag #savethebees, tattoo it on your forehead… whatever you have to do to let others know, get the message out there. It’s never been more important to step up and speak for the important creatures who don’t have a voice of their own.
Okay beegans, it’s time to get out there and spread the message!