On this Earth Day number 46, I thought it fitting to honor the one species that may provide the most benefit to human and natural systems alike. You won’t see this creature on t-shirts, posters, nor as the mascot for sports teams (though I do believe there is a Yellow Jackets college team), yet honeybees are simply critical to the world’s food supply as well as this year’s most phenomenal flower show in the Columbia River Gorge. Almost everything we eat comes about through cross-pollination, and honeybees provide 15 billion dollars in free ecological services pollinating 1,000 familiar foods including peaches, melons, blueberries, apples, almonds, and vanilla,.
Ninety percent of all flowering plants rely on animals, rather than the wind, for pollination. And to make sure we are not excluding other Friends of Flowers, we are told 200,000 animal pollinators exist from ants, beetles, wasps, opposums, bats, butterflies, moths, and birds such as hummingbirds.
Thirty-one percent of all honebee colonies declined in 2012-2013, while many species of pollinators have decreased in numbers because of loss of habitat, misuse of pesticides,introduced and invasive plants and animals, diseases and parasites. The U.S.has lost more than 50% of its managed honey colonies in the past decade.