The Birds & The Bees

Friday, 16 October 2009  |  Admin

The Greediest of Species

Mankind is a greedy species, and we are now greedy for space on this planet that we share with all other Earthly life, in a way we have never been before.  Consider the pace of our growth: 10,000 years ago population scientists believe that there were only about 1 million of us across the Earth; by 1800 this had mushroomed to 1 billion; 1950 we had ballooned to 2.5 billion. Today we are 6.7 billion in number and by 2050 it is estimated that we may have grown to 9 billion. As we consume resources as never before, our own survival is being put at risk by the pressure we are placing on the survival of other species. Environmentalists are rightly concerned about the destruction of the World’s rain forests – vanishing at the rate of 1.5 acres per second according to the Rainforest Action Network, oceanographers point out that the ocean’s are over fished and polluted – the two lungs of the World are as abused as those of a 100-a-day smoker. But alongside these well publicised concerns, another vulnerable life form should be pricking our collective conscience and prompting concerned action – the Honey Bee!

Life But No Bees?

A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. This pattern is not unique to the UK however – bee numbers have plummeted alarmingly around the world. The US has lost 70% of its honeybee colonies over the past two winters. Losses in the UK currently are running at 30% a year — up from just 6% in 2003.

Einstein has been cited as saying ‘If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, then man would have only four years of life left.’ The honey bee is one of the most important pollinators known to man. About one third of human nutrition is directly due to crops grown through bee pollination, so the recent dramatic and unexplained losses of the honey bee population have caused great alarm.

Unintended Consequences

There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK. Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive: an unintended consequence of Man’s need to increase food production.

Biodiversity Depends on Bees

Without bees biodiversity would not be so great. The only way to constantly mix the genes for plants is by cross-pollination, where pollen from one plant is transported by bees to another so that the offspring become genetically different. In that way, there is a greater chance for at least some of the offspring to survive in the competition of life. In this bees are one of the most important factors.

Yin Yang Skincare products are formulated with pure botanical ingredients: we all depend on nature for so much that we take for granted. We should not ignore the plight of the Honey Bee.

Protest Today

The Soil Association believes that there is sufficient evidence to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids . Lend your voice to calls by the Soil Association to get these pesticides banned by signing its petition.