Thousands of Dead Bees Found on Naples Beach

Courtesy+of+BBC
Courtesy of BBC

Courtesy of BBC

MYN / Pierre Escoubas / NaturePL

MYN / Pierre Escoubas / NaturePL

Courtesy of BBC

Taylor G. '17, Reporter and Social Media

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Thousands of dead and dying bees are washing up on a popular beach in Southern Florida. Naples residents say the problem started only a few days ago. They are both concerned and confused. Seeing bees wash up at the beach is very unusual. The cause could be anything from a nearby pesticide spraying forcing them to the water or a swarm flying overhead that became exhausted and flew into the water. Some visitors of Naples Beach said they’re staying away after being stung while walking the shoreline. Many people said the bee problem has popped up during the past few days.

Bees are often underappreciated but our lives and the world as a whole would be a much different place if bees didn’t exist. To illustrate this fact, consider these numbers: bees are responsible for pollinating about one-sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plant. Honeybees and the other pollinators and the invaluable pollinating services they provide us with helped produce approximately $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S. alone in 2010; that’s estimated to be one-third of everything we eat! To say we rely on the pollination efforts of bees to sustain our modern food system is an understatement. A few examples of the foods that would no longer be available to us if bees stopped pollinating our agricultural goods are: broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, and cherries. Made by bees regurgitating nectar and passing it back and forth in their mouths to one another before depositing and sealing it in a honeycomb, its intended use is for the bees’ winter food stores. Humans are quite fond of this amber liquid as well – the 2013 honey crop was valued at $317.1 million. But honey bees are disappearing globally at an alarming rate due to pesticides, parasites, disease and habitat loss. If these little insects that help provide so much of the food we eat were to vanish, what would we do without them? Seeds, fruits and berries eaten by birds and small mammals are all from plants that are pollinated by bees, making them guardians of the food chain and the biodiversity of our species. The bees need the flowers for food, while the flower needs the bee to reproduce. Unlike other insects, nectar and pollen from flowering plants are bees’ only food source; the sweet nectar drink gives adult bees energy.

There is an apocalyptic quote attributed to Albert Einstein (although there is no proof he actually said it): “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years left to live.” Bernard Jensen, Ph.D., one of the founders of the “alternative health” movement stated that, “The bees are the greatest life workers of any community I have studied in nature……I believe sincerely that man will never progress until he gets into the work that will never harm his fellow man.”

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