As our planet’s environment continues to suffer, many of Earth’s natural resources have become scarce. As global landscapes weather the effects of urbanization, toxic contaminants, pollution, climate change and other dangers to the ecosystem, wildlife is in peril, and in some cases, to the point where extinction among certain species may become imminent. From animals and insects to various forms of agriculture and vegetation, the world has been negatively impacted by various forms of toxicity – and most of the blame can be traced back to humans.
In the instance of bees, environmental conditions have posed a major risk to honey bees’ health and productivity while negatively impacting the livelihood of beekeepers, farmers and the agricultural community on a global scale. In recent years, the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) phenomenon has become a growing source of concern among environmentalists, beekeepers and the world at large, as bees are essential for our ecosystem’s survival. In an effort to address this problem, Pass The Honey is working to raise awareness of the importance of bees in our ecosystem while creating sustainable practices to support the health and vitality of honeybees for future generations to come.
Understanding Colony Collapse Disorder: Identifying The Risks To Honey Bees
There are numerous reasons why bees are dying off around the world. According to a recent USDA-sponsored survey administered by the Bee Informed Partnership, the current rate of mortality for bees in managed hives was 44% in 2016 – up 3.5% from the previous year. And while the “Colony Collapse Disorder” (or CCD) terminology refers to a specific phenomenon in which the majority of a hive abruptly abandon a queen, her larvae and full honey stores behind (sometimes overnight), the decline of honey bees across the planet is not simply the result of CCD alone, but a complex amalgam of ecological and industrial changes.
Here is an overview of some of the major risks posing a threat to honey bees’ health & productivity:
- Exposure To Chemicals: Whether it’s exposure to chemicals via agriculture or toxic substances leaching into the environment in urban areas, honey bees are subjected to a variety of contaminants that are a hindrance to their productivity and vitality. One of the major offenders, pesticides used in agriculture are extremely detrimental, as they have been shown to alter bees’ foraging behavior, ability to communicate, and larval development. Because bees are almost completely reliant upon physical and chemical signals, pesticides compromise not only their health, but their very existence. Even worse, pesticides have been linked to lowering their immune systems while weakening the hive, leaving their colonies wide open to parasitic infection.
- Habitat Loss: Habitat loss is primarily the result of climate changes, agriculture, urbanization and land degradation. Due to the increase in human population and ongoing climate changes, our global landscape continues to experience tangible shifts that in turn affect habitat loss. Such changes directly impact the bee population, putting a major stressor on their overall health and survival rate. In fact, one study names habitat loss as the number-one threat for bee diversity and survival.
- Parasites: One of the primary threats to the lives of honey bees include parasites – currently, one of the most harmful parasites includes a mite known as Varroa destructor. According to scientific studies, if a hive is already in a weakened state, a Varroa mite infestation can completely destroy it. Other parasites linked to the CCD include Nosema spp., a microsporidian gut parasite and the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida.
- Diseases: Another culprit that leaves hives prone to viral and bacterial infection is weakened immune systems caused by disease. Deformed Wing Virus and American Foulbrood are two of the most prevalent diseases to infect bees. Deformed Wing Virus is transmitted via Varroa mites, inhibiting bees from being able to fly, whereas American Foulbrood affects larvae less than a day old, preventing bees from surviving until adulthood.
- Poor Nutrition: In more recent years, certain human farming practices have been developed that make it more difficult for bees to forage for a well-balanced diet. For example, monoculture farming is a type of agriculture where a singular crop is grown on a piece of land, thus limiting the bees’ diet to only one type of pollen for extended periods of time. As a result, the bees become malnourished and consequently more susceptible to various pathogens, parasites and chemical pesticides, since their immune systems have been compromised and cannot fight off toxins and other predatory conditions.
From Hive To Hearth, We’re Making An Impact
At Pass The Honey, our honeycomb is responsibly harvested, straight from the source to our customers. Featuring naturally-occurring royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen, it’s both delicious and convenient for everyone in your family. What’s more, we’re proud to offer an entirely edible, wholesome product that is environmentally friendly while raising awareness among the communities we serve – after all, honeybees provide not only an invaluable food source, but support the delicate balance our ecosystem depends on. We use ecologically mindful production methods including:
- Mapping healthy forage locations: Our honey is sourced from chemical-free forage areas to avoid the risks of bioaccumulation of agrochemicals and other pollutants in the wax of honeycombs.
- Abundant forage throughout the growing season: In order to produce full and efficiently-harvested comb selections, we provide a variety of agricultural resources to allow our bees a naturally-occurring forage selection, resulting in healthy hives, happy bees – and delicious honey!
Taste You Can Trust
Pass The Honey is dedicated to supporting the health and vitality of honey bees as well as beekeeping and responsible agricultural practices that improve our environment. We’re also economically conscientious when it comes to the viability of beekeepers and other farmers. And last but not least, we’re delighted to offer delectable honeycombs and liquid honey to our consumers – simply put, we wouldn’t sell anything we wouldn’t feed our own family!
- “The Vanishing Of The Bees.” Planet Bee Foundation (Planet Bee.org), (no publish date), https://www.planetbee.org/colony-collapse-disorder. Accessed May 3, 2019.
- “Honey Bee Health and Colony Collapse Disorder.” Agricultural Research Service (USDA), (no publish date), https://www.ars.usda.gov/oc/br/ccd/index/. Accessed May 3, 2019.
- Bjerga, Alan. “Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder.” Bloomberg.com, August 1, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-01/good-news-for-bees-as-numbers-recover-while-mystery-malady-wanes. Accessed May 3, 2019.