On January 17th, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the first bumble bee on the Endangered Species List. The rusty patched bumble bee, once abundant across more than half of the continental U.S., is now struggling to persevere through the destruction of its habitat and excessive pesticide exposure. Although the endangered status of the rusty patched bumble bee is upsetting, it is far from shocking; bee species all across the world have been vanishing at concerning rates, and this recent phenomenon is posing a serious threat to mankind.
Now, a mass extinction of bees will not trigger the mass extinction of the highly intelligent, yet highly irresponsible human species. However, it would be foolish to think that the disappearance of bees, the most important animal pollinator on Earth, would come without substantial consequences. Allow me to put this into perspective.
The cringe of a $1.80 charge for guacamole will no longer be on your extensive list of first-world problems. In addition, you will no longer suffer the utterly painful, six-minute wait for your grande White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks. Tired of rainbow chard always being a mystery basket ingredient on “Chopped”? Your agony will soon be over if bees continue to go bye-bye.
Here are the cold, hard facts: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, there are around 45 plant species that require or are highly dependent upon animal pollination, most of them being fruits, vegetables, and our beloved coffee. If bees go sayonara, the plant species that absolutely require bee pollination will cease to exist. Say farewell to almond milk folks! In addition, plant species that don’t necessarily require, but are highly dependent upon bee pollination will not only become rare, but extremely pricey as well. This means no more coffee or guacamole for you, unless you’re willing to take out a small loan to fund your consumption.
Now, it’s quite possible that you think a change in your Starbucks and Chipotle habits would be the most devastating result of bees disappearing. You’re wrong! In actuality, the worst consequence of bee extinction will be an overall decrease in global food security. It’s simple. Prices for food go up, and the ability for families to buy a substantial amount of nutritious food goes down. Yes, you may be deprived of your favorite caffeinated beverage, and you may even have to resort to salsa with your tortilla chips, but the harsh reality is that without bees, people all around the world will struggle to put food on the table.
While this all may seem doom and gloom, the fight to save bees is far from lost. Despite the fact that the president froze the federal order to protect and restore the rusty patched bumble bee, there are still ways that we can prevent their disappearance. Plant bee-friendly flowers and herbs, such as basil, lavender, rosemary, and forget-me-nots! Don’t use chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn or garden! If the government refuses to take action, then it is up to us to make sure that the endangered rusty patched bumble bee does not slip into extinction.
Find out even more ways to help save the bees at savebees.org!