A World Without Bees

Table of Contents

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the media focusing their attention towards bees and the rate at which their numbers are declining. The cause for the decline in bees isn’t certain, however, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder seems to be a major factor. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is “when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen” (Colony Collapse Disorder). With the number of bees declining repercussions for this could be a possible economic crisis affecting not just the economy but millions of people. Another repercussion that will occur with the decrease of bees is a dwindling number in the availability of food and the varieties present in our everyday meals. The clothing industry would also be receiving reverberation from the decrease in the number of pollinators because bees contribute a large amount to the materials needed for clothes. The continued destruction of the bee population will have long-term economic repercussions and immediate effects on the food and clothing industries.In fact, bees play a major role in the economy because “Bee pollination is worth $15 billion to the U.S. farming industry” (Amadeo.) As the number of bees continues to decrease the prices for bees begin to increase. For example, “Beekeepers charged almond growers $51.99 per hive in 2003. By 2009 that rose to $157.03 a hive. By 2016, that fee increased to prices between $180 to $200 a hive” (Amadeo.) The effects of the decrease in bees are already becoming noticeable as the price for a hive as supported by Amadeo are increasing every year. In fact, “Over the last six years, the bee industry spent $2 billion to replace 10 million hives. That’s for an industry that makes $500 million a year”(Amadeo.) Amadeo actually states, “These high costs force beekeepers to charge more to replace hives when they collapse. Higher fees cost almond growers an extra $83 million a year. They pass those costs on as higher prices”. A possible economic crisis isn’t just in the U.S. but it is in order countries as well, for example, the European Commission (EC) is now trying to help stop the rapid decrease in bees by trying to stop neonicotinoid use on crops. For instance, the European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said, “I pledge to my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22 billion Euros [$29 billion] annually to European agriculture, are protected,” (Grossman.) Another key point is that when bees disappear the prices of foods in grocery and products aided by the pollination of bees will increase in price. Some examples of items that will increase in price would be milk, eggs, honey, clothing made with cotton, and beef. The food in supermarkets would be sold out or parish, which would cause no income in the pockets of supermarkets, as well as, multiple people having to be laid off due to insufficient funds to pay every employee. Jobs connected to bee pollination such as honey bee keepers and farmer have low incomes as well.Causing many people to become jobless, which means they would have no money to spend on necessities needed for everyday life leading to an even bigger decrease to incomes for major industries such as clothing and food industries. Eventually leading to a worldwide economic crisis affecting millions. Consequently, without bees, the economy would soon face a possible economic crisis.Bees also play a crucial role in the agricultural industry because they pollinate “71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of most of the world’s food”(No Bees, No Food). The remaining 10% are pollinated by other pollinators such as butterflies, wasps, the wind and much more. In fact, bees help pollinate other plants that are considered cattle food such as clover and alfalfa which are both in the legumes family (Underhill). “Legumes provide a sizable amount of the feed required to support the production of meat, milk, and cheese” (Underhill). Consequently, without bees to pollinate legumes, there will be an insufficient amount of cattle food to provide for cows, chickens, pigs, and sheep. With this in mind, cattle will no longer have a widely available source of food causing the numbers of cattle animals to decrease. This will then be followed by a decline in milk, eggs, beef, cheese, and other cattle produced products. Additionally, foods in the supermarket will begin to dwindle due to shortages, meaning won’t be enough food to feed every mouth leading to famines across the world. However, some might suggest that the decline in bees won’t cause an immediate effect on the food industry and if the bees disappear there will be alternatives ways to obtain vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Take, for instance, the case of “the apple and pear orchards of south west China, where wild bees have been eradicated by excessive pesticide use and a lack of natural habitat” (Goulson). Due to this reason, southwest China farmers were forced to hand-pollinate these trees by “carrying pots of pollen and paintbrushes with which to individually pollinate every flower, and using their children to climb up to the highest blossoms” (Goulson). This will give an opportunity to look for a more successful alternative than hand-pollination at that time, however, only people with the money or resources to obtain the hand-pollinated food will be able to survive. With that in consideration, the food needs specific temperatures and time to nourish and grow, as well as, taking into mind that possible parasites might destroy or damage crops. There could also be unforeseen events such as natural disasters that could affect the land in which the food grows and the progress of hand-pollination. Overall, plants need time to grow and nourish which might not be available since it will be in such demand. It must not be forgotten that even though hand-pollination is an effective method to pollinate without the use of bees, bees help pollinate large quantities of food daily. Therefore as stated by Grimminck, “It couldn’t be done on all crops, simply because there aren’t enough people to pollinate all the plants that are currently pollinated by bees. there aren’t enough people on earth to make up for the loss of millions of pollinators”. A statement which was backed up by David Goulson, who made the same claim. Another argument that could be made is that we could turn to wind-pollinated food such as corn and wheat. However, a diet of food like corn, wheat, and rice will lead to health problems. “In 2011, a study from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis found that across the planet, bee-pollinated crops provide the majority of the lipids, a large portion of the minerals calcium, fluoride, and iron, vitamin A, C, and E. Without the foods, we physically wouldn’t do well” (Grimminck .) Based on the evidence presented, the fall of bees will cause the fall of the food industry.The clothing industry is greatly affected by bees as well. The clothing industry uses material such as cotton, leather, wool, synthetic materials, and many more to fabricate the clothes we wear every day (What Are Clothes…). Three of those materials would be greatly affected by the dwindling number of bees since bees help pollinate cotton and the food given to cows and sheep which is where leather and wool are obtained from. In fact, since the food for cows and sheep seize to exist these animals will begin to starve which could lead to their death. This causes a shortage of the necessary materials to make leather and wool causing leather and wool to become rarer and to have an increased price. Along with the depleting number of bees would be cotton which is used in a lot of clothes. For example, “a few clothing items that contain cotton are denim, t-shirts, underwear, and socks. It’s also used in other everyday objects like bed sheets, shoelaces, disposable diapers, and toilet paper” (Grimminck.) This means clothing made out of cotton would become harder to produce and the clothing industry would have to use other materials in more of an abundance such as polyester to make up for the loss of bees. Another key point to remember is that “While we can make clothing that is similar to cotton, like polyester, the problem is the new demand for these synthetic fabrics will put a tremendous strain on the materials needed to make them and they are not as plentiful as cotton is today” (Grimminck). This shows that even though we could replace cotton it would be difficult to keep up with demand causing a strain to be put on other materials, as well as, possible economical problems that could arise from spending more money to make materials and the amount of money being received will decrease after a while because there will be more demand than supply. Evidently, with the loss of bees will come a shortage of materials for the clothing industry causing the industry to have economical problems and shortages of materials.Bees have been decreasing at alarming rates for multiple years and with the decrease of bees come multiple problems. The economy would begin to tumble causing an economic crisis and many people wouldn’t have enough money to support their families or themselves. The food that is in the grocery stores will begin to dwindle causing famines to occur worldwide since there will be more mouths to feed then the amount of food there actually is. Lastly, clothes will become in huge demand that materials need for clothing will have a strain on them causing the number of materials to decrease causing the same problem to occur. A possible economic crisis, decreased availability of food, and trouble in the clothing industry are all possible outcomes with the continued decrease in bees. Without that in mind, bees affect the world in unimaginable ways and without them life on earth would become almost impossible.