For some time now, there have been reports on the declining honeybee populations across America. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD occurs when bees leave the hive and die) has been recorded in 35 states and other countries. Although the verdict is not out on the primary force behind their regression, we do know how we – and the rest of life in the biosphere – benefit from their works.
Honeybees gather pollen and nectar that they find in the crevices of angiosperms (flowering plants). If honeybees do not forage for food, the sexual reproductive process within angiosperms becomes more problematic for the plant. Many tiny yellow grains of pollen must land all over the sticky pistil (specifically the stigma) of each flower to make the seeds grow inside to produce an embryo, or, more importantly to us, a fruit. Honeybees facilitate this process free of charge by logging hundreds of flights a day from flower to flower.
For example, you might think seeds inside a watermelon aren't important. Maybe you think they get in your way when you eat a piece of melon. But if you want a sweet melon, you want pollinated seeds inside. A watermelon that tastes more like the rind rather than the deliciousness you enjoyed during your childhood 4th of July barbeques is a consequence of the lack of pollination when the watermelon was in blossom. As the seeds develop inside, several hormones are released, ripening and sweetening the melon. Without pollinated seeds, no hormones are discharged. This is bad news for the farmer or casual gardener. You can weed, fertilize, water, and care for those crops as well as one’s children, but without bees, a tasty end product will not result.
One third of the food we eat is dependent on pollinators. We couldn't grow these foods if we didn't have bees or other insects to pollinate these crops. Over 100 crops including watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, cherries, oranges, peaches, and kiwifruit are other fruits that are dependent on bees to produce fruit. Vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, and some varieties of peas, beans and nuts such as macadamia nuts and almonds require bees to have a yield.
With honeybees serving 80% of the country’s pollination services and up to 25% of the honeybee population disappearing over the last few winters, our natural food supply is in peril. So who is rallying the troops in their new campaign? An ice cream company perhaps? Because Häagen-Daz uses all-natural ingredients and depends on bee pollination for nearly 40% of its flavors, Häagen-Daz has committed to serving bee populations across the United States. Besides bringing about more awareness through education programs, philanthropic events, and bee-friendly landscaping, Häagen-Daz is donating money to support sustainable honeybee pollination research programs at Pennsylvania State University and the University of California at Davis. In addition, they recently released the Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream flavor, which fiscally supports their cause.
In case you want to help boost the honeybee population in your local community, Häagen-Daz’ campaign suggests planting flowers and plants that will attract bees. These include lavender, glory bushes, jasmine, rosemary, coreopsis, violets, thyme, wisteria, bluebells, trumpet vine, sunflowers, cosmos and cone flowers.
So…let’s get BUSY!!!