Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Importance of Bees

Sometimes it takes a simple approach to remind us of important things.  Take for example the 2007 animated film Bee Movie, where in a cute and colourful way, we are reminded of the value of this industrious insect.  The honeybee is responsible for pollinating crops, fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Their loss would threaten the food we eat and the beauty around us.

Sadly, that loss is happening. The honeybee colonies are dying.  Information released in May by the American Department of Agriculture reported that they don't really know why it's happening, but considering that bees help pollinate crops worth more than $200 billion annually, it's worrying.

Ontario beekeepers, however,  feel it's those very crops that might be the problem.  The culprit, they say, is a relatively new class of pesticides derived from nicotine. Neonicotinoids are applied to the corn seed, then make their way into the leaves and pollen, where bees ingest them.

More than 200 bee farmers in Ontario and Quebec reported an unusually high number of losses according to a Health Canada report last year.  While in 2012,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked pesticides at the bottom of the list of potential causes, saying the problem is complex, Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency that same year found the chemical in 70 per cent of the samples they took from dead Ontario bees.

That a pesticide sprayed on crops is killing bees makes sense to me, but whatever the reason the reality is unsettling. While purchasing some honey at a local farmers market recently,  my husband and I asked the apiarist if he'd experienced any losses.  His answer was about 50%. Much better, he added, than some of the larger apiaries, where, with the cost of a starter hive plus equipment running in the neighbourhood of $500, the loss is devastating.

Indeed, this is a rather serious commentary to introduce collections of illustrations. But when it comes to a problem this concerning, I believe it needs all the attention it can get,  in whatever form it takes.

iCLIPART.com Bee Illustrations

Acclaim Images Bee Clipart

iPHOTOS.com Bee Images

ClickArt Online Bee Illustrations

ClipartGuide Bee Images
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