‘Declining Bee Population Threat to Food Security’

Honey Bees

“Honey bees make up 80% of the world’s pollinating insects; 75% of world’s food crops are at least partly dependent on pollination affecting an industry of USD 235- 577 billion.  Besides this close to 90% of wild flowering plants depend to an extent on animal pollination. A decline in honey bee population is bound to adversely affect our food security” said Dr Kavya Dashora, Assistant Professor, Center for Rural Development & Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Dr Dashora was presenting a  talk “Honey Bees and Ecology: Are We Moving Towards a Flowerless Spring?” in New Delhi, the talk was organised by Srijan Foundation.

Dr Dashora said that besides pollinating food crops like cereals, fruits and vegetables honey bees are also required by plants to spread their seeds to increase their numbers hence they indirectly they play a role in meeting our oxygen requirements. Bees have a bigger commercial impact that merely food crop production “While there are 20,000 species of  bees only honey bees are capable of producing large amounts of honey and wax for human use. Wax is used extensively in pharma companies, cosmetics, lubricants, dentists also use this extensively.”

She explained some of the reasons for the decline in bee population “One of the major cause for decline in honey bee population is termites.  Over hunting for honey and wax leads to colony collapse disorder, habitats of bees have been shrinking due to deforestation. Use of pesticides on farm crops have had an adverse impact on the ability of honey bees to pollinate. Bees are attracted to the sweet smell of coffee and tea leftovers in the disposable cups and when these are put in the garbage they often get crushed in the bins. It is estimated that approximately 8000 bees get crushed daily in the waste bins around the world.”

She warned consumers that not all honey bottles that bear the name ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ may actually be so “Real honey does not require preservatives, yet in the nutrition profile we find added preservatives is written, even in bee farms they are fed antibiotics. We see guava honey, mustard honey and litchi honey being very popular yet most of the times we find that these honey bottles have been sourced from places which neither produce litchi, mustard or guava hence the need for preservatives.”

Bees building Honey

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