While scientists only suspected pesticides as the killers of honey bees, there is now definitive proof of their involvement in Colony Collapse Disorder. What will your family do about it?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this article about Colony Collapse Disorder, the [previously] mysterious killer of honey bees, resulting in a honey bee population decline by "approximately 30 percent in the United States alone, with some beekeepers reporting losses up to 90 and 100 percent" (source).

Bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating U.S. crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection. Honey bees are more likely to become a victim of the lethal Nosema ceranae parasite, which ultimately leads to death.

Though some beekeepers believed neonicotinoids, a powerful new type of insecticide, were responsible for the destruction of their hives, scientists had not yet made a formal connection between the chemicals and the bees' deaths. Now, a peer-reviewed study by American scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland "shows that bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating U.S. crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection. Honey bees are more likely to become a victim of the lethal Nosema ceranae parasite, which ultimately leads to death" (source).

Honey bees are used to pollinate more than 100 different crops in the U.S. Because we rely on them so extensively, their destruction poses a significant threat to our food sources. The scientists behind the aforementioned study state that their findings "are of great concern given the large numbers and high levels of pesticides found in honey bee colonies" and "highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to" (source). The findings are particularly important because fungicides were typically seen as safe for honey bees, and while they do not kill them directly, they seem to increase their susceptibility to deadly parasites.

In short, based on this study, it seems neonicotinoids are not the only pesticides harming our bees.

Not just the hippies

Since peer-reviewed science is beginning to substantiate the claims of beekeepers regarding pesticides and its connection to Colony Collapse Disorder, it seems the time has passed when we can dismiss organic foods as the obsession of radical hemp-wearing conspiracy theorists, or hippies.

I admit, I did it too. I made fun of the people who refused to buy something unless it was free-range, grass-fed, sustainably, locally, responsibly farmed by people with dreadlocks and armpit hair riding recycled bicycles.

OK, you can see I'm having some fun with this. But check it out: This is getting serious and even I can't laugh at the die-hard organic types anymore.

Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides are messing with biodiversity, our health and our environment,
and when 30 percent of the bee population is disappearing, it's rather hard to dismiss the threat.

Clearly, there's something to what they're doing. Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides are messing with biodiversity, our health and our environment, and when 30 percent of the bee population is disappearing, it's rather hard to dismiss the threat.

Further proof of the value behind the organic-food movement is the risk GMOs pose to our bodies, the earth's ecosystems and small farming operations. You can read about that here.

stack of money

There is always science debunking "environmentalist" claims, and if you read this website, you'll read about all the wonderful, life-giving gifts GMOs will provide the world's population! Incidentally the entire website and the organization backing it is funded by the biotech companies making the pesticides and GMOs they support, but I'm sure the millions of dollars they make from those substances have not affected their opinions in any way! I'm sure they are totally trustworthy without an ounce of bias for their own financial benefit! Let's totally trust the list of founders stated on the website: "Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta."

I sure feel safe in their arms!

If it were possible to die from sarcasm, I'd be motionless on the floor.

Some practical ideas

Anyway, look, I can't afford all organic foods. My husband is an iron-worker and you're looking at my job (I'm a freelance writer). We have three kids and a Labrador of questionable intelligence who eats about 9,000 pounds of food a day. He also runs into dirty glass doors but whatever, that's not the point. The point is we don't have much money, and we shop at Costco more often than the local co-op, but as a human being on this planet, I feel some responsibility for not making self-centered decisions because, well, because I can. Because it's all about me, screw the rest.

So yeah, what can my family do for the honey bees?

Well, as I've mentioned before, we can buy as many organic items as possible. We can buy our food from farmers markets. We can avoid GMOs (as far as that's even still possible). We can become backyard beekeepers, which can "not only infuse the dying hobby with life, it can strengthen the bee gene pool by adding healthy local bees to the mix" (source).

...suspends the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators.

You can start a Facebook page like this one, to disseminate information, and just share your love of the honey bees. You can write your representatives and senators to tell them to support honey bee research, and bills like this one, which "suspends the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators" (source).

You can join organizations like this one and support the companies listed on this page, which are working hard to support the honey bees.

You can talk to your kids about honey bees. You can teach them what they do and why we should care. You can visit local beekeepers.

You can do all of this.

We can do all this, and more. And it's looking like we should.

More on food

Gluten-free diet: Hype or health?
Get healthy: Easy steps to better health

5 Reasons you should care about GMOs

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