Eva Bein is an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Science and Policy student at the University of Maryland. She is expanding her knowledge of honey bees and Nosema through her research project in our lab. Here is her blog…enjoy!
I came to this internship through an interest in our food supply. I wanted to understand food production practices from where they started on the farm. As a Green Dining Intern at University of Maryland, I thought a lot about how to produce sustainable food and I found that many of the methods we use today to produce huge quantities of produce make it more difficult for the bees to do their job. Since the bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of our 100 major crop species, according to the U.N., our practices seem to be biting the hand that feeds (Humans Must Change…). It is unclear what is causing so many bees to die in the process of pollinating our crops, but scientists have their suspicions and there are numerous possibilities. One possible cause may be a class of pesticides which are used on many crops and which may be toxic to bees. The jury is still out on neonicotinoids, but a large amount of research is being conducted. A second method used in large farming operations is the use of only a single crop over miles of farmland. This adoption of mono-culture in farming is another potential link to unhealthy bees because the lack of diversity in a bee’s diet has been linked to a weaker immune system. Advocates for native bees and honey bees are winning over some of these battles by getting farmers to plant hedgerows of natural forage for all these insects. Not everyone is thinking about bee health when they advocate for “sustainable food,” but keeping the bees alive is the keystone of a sustainable food supply.
“Humans Must Change Behavior to save Bees, Vital for Food Production – UN Report.” UN News Center. United Nations, 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.