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Georgia Avery: Local Beekeepers Doing Their Part to Keep Colonies Thriving

Would you like to eat only corn and rice three meals a day every day? Because if bees disappeared, only wind-pollinated crops, like corn, would survive. My name is Georgia Avery, and I would like to tell you about the consequences of bees dying off.

Georgia Avery
Georgia Avery

One of the main causes of bees dying is a disorder called Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD itself is caused by a variety of things; the first is travel.

Now, you may not think about it, but how do big commercial growing fields become pollinated? Their fields can’t be pollinated enough by natural forces, and since they are too loud to attract other pollinators, the companies pay beekeepers to load hundreds of bees in trucks and drive them all the way to the fields.

This isn’t very good for the bees, as you might have guessed, and can stress them out a lot.

Another factor is the lack of food diversity. When the bees are trucked to the fields, they pollinate the single crop planted there. Out in the wild the bees get nectar from a broad range of plants, but with one plant growing, they don’t get the necessary protein and vitamins needed to produce good honey and keep the bees healthy.

And think of all the “weed killers” that kill off the plants! That brings me to my next point.

Pesticides. Herbicides. Those two things alone are perhaps the most responsible for CCD. Bees don’t usually fall into the “pest” category, but they are affected by pesticides, too.

There are consequences to having a “pest-free” farm, and it means getting rid of the good as well as the bad. Think, if a plant is sprayed with chemicals that are meant to kill weeds, some of it must get into the plant. So, if the bees collect nectar and pollen from a plant infused with harmful chemicals, won’t that be bad for the bees?

This affects us in more ways than one.

If the bees make honey from plants that have been sprayed with harmful toxins, and we eat that honey, well you may look at your plastic honey bear and think of the pesticides and herbicides that might be inside. Do you want to eat that?

There is a simple solution, and it is closer than you think. There are alternatives to commercially raised bee honey. Big beekeeping hives have lost a range from 30 percent to as high as 60 percent of their bees to CCD.

Local beekeepers have lost a total of 0 percent. They have never had any cases of CCD. The reasons why? Local beekeepers give their bees a wide variety of plants to choose from and never use harmful toxins.

If big bee companies were to stop using certain pesticides, give the bees a more varied diet, and have less travel, they would get the same results.

You can help support sustainable beekeeping by doing something as simple as buying natural honey. In fact, I bet you could find some of that natural honey right now at your local farmers market.

— Georgia Avery is a seventh-grader at Laguna Blanca School in Santa Barbara. The opinions expressed are her own.

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