Ted Talk on Honeybees

honeybee on Camellia bloom

In 1945  4.5 million honeybee hives existed in the USA.  By 2007 that hive count was down to 2 million hives.  What happened post World War II?

Industrial Agriculture.  Mechanization, factories and war time chemicals needed a new outlet after the war.   Big Ag supplied it.  Larger farms using machines planted mono cultures of wheat, corn, and soybean which do not provide nectar.  These monoculture fields replaced food crops grown alongside of flowering hedgerows, and cover crops like clover and alfalfa that once fed the honeybees and native bees.

Industrial Lawns supporting the lawn maintenance industry.  Some of us remember the clover lawns of our childhood. Those lawns of grasses and clover, and weeds did not require chemicals or fertilizer because clover is a nitrogen fixing plant.   Today’s lawns of  green carpets are food deserts to pollinators, and such lawns require huge amounts of time, energy, and dollars to maintain them.

The strange thing about our agricultural practices that are meant to feed the world….these monoculture crops are leading us to a precipice, “a place where danger, trouble, or difficulty begins”.   In the USA, we eat from a First World plate that includes many crops that must be pollinated by honeybees or native bees.  Sustenance diets, known by many people around the world are the grain and grass crops that do not require insect pollinators but are wind pollinated or self pollinated crops.  Our (USA) current model of large farms of monoculture crops may lead to the extinction of  pollinators and then we and the rest of the world will be back  to eating a sustenance diet.  Diversity creates stability.   Monocultures eventually collapse.  Eventually is looming closer each year.  So say the honeybees.