What Would Happen if Bees Went Extinct? These Ten Things Would Disappear

bees extinction
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – PollyDot

May 20th is World Bee Day – a day to remind us that we all depend on the survival of bees. However, bee populations are slowly declining around the world. What would happen if bees went extinct? For starters, bee extinction would mean losing a tremendous amount of everyday things, and not just fruit and vegetables. 

Imagine you go to the grocery store, but when you get there, most of the shelves are empty. There is nothing there that was on your shopping list: no apples or raspberries, no cucumbers, peas or beans, no margarine, no honey, no coffee, no shampoo, no gummy bears; even cotton pads seem to have disappeared. 

Why Would Bee Extinction Affect Us?

The scene described above is a pretty accurate representation of what could happen if bees went extinct. Why? Because the production of approximately one third of the crops that we grow for food is dependent on pollination by bees, and many other products require plant-based ingredients taken from those same crops. 

In recent years, wild bee populations have been experiencing a sharp decline, and several species of bees are on the endangered list. If we don’t act to protect them now, bees will begin to permanently disappear from the Earth. And if bees went extinct, they would take a lot with them – including these ten things:

1. Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries

bee extinction berries
Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries rely on bees. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Couleur)

Blueberry tarts, vanilla ice cream with strawberries, raspberry jam on your peanut butter sandwich – bees dying would mean we can kiss these guilty pleasures goodbye, because berries, like many other kinds of fruit, are dependent on bees for pollination.

Other kinds of fruit that would be missing in a world without bees include apricots, apples, cherries, peaches, plums, mangoes, and kiwis. 

2. Fruit Juice

bee extinction fruit juice
No bees, no apple juice or orange juice. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Lisa Fotios)

If there’s no more fruit, then it won’t be possible to make fruit products (surprise!). Bee extinction would mean no more orange juice with your breakfast in the morning, no more apple cider on autumn afternoons, etc. 

To help prevent bees from going extinct, you can choose to buy organic juice. Why would that make a difference? Because organic farming prohibits the use of chemical pesticides, which can be extremely harmful to bees. The use of pesticides is detrimental to bee populations and is one of the major causal factors of colony collapse disorder. 

3. Cosmetics: Deodorant, Creams, and Conditioners

bees dying cosmetics
Many cosmetics contain ingredients derived from plants that depend on bees. (Photo: © Pavelis / stock.adobe.com)

Cosmetics? What do they have to do with bees? Many deodorants, creams, and conditioners contain plant-based ingredients taken from citrus fruits or shea-butter, which can only exist if bees are there to pollinate the growing plants.

Many conventional cosmetic products would disappear if bees went extinct. However, plant-based ingredients are found first and foremost in certified natural cosmetics, meaning bee extinction would cause the most ecological and fair-trade cosmetic products to disappear first. 

Read on: How to Make Homemade Lip Balm: Easy Recipe for Chapstick

4. Vegetables: Cucumbers, Pumpkins, and Avocado

bee extinction vegetables
Many popular vegetables would disappear without bees. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Khalil)

What would happen to our veg if bees went extinct? We would still have some vegetables: salad greens and legumes, for example, are capable of self-pollination and therefore do not rely on the help of insects. 

However, vegetables like cucumbers, pumpkins, onions, broccoli, celery, tomatoes or avocados all rely on bees for pollination. Bee extinction would severely limit the diversity of the vegetables that we are able to grow and harvest. You can find a list of crop plants pollinated by bees here.

Read on: Which Pumpkin Skins Are Edible?

5. Gummy Bears

gummy bears
No bees, no gummy bears. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Alexa's Fotos)

No bees, no gummy bears. Because of the fruit juice used to make them, right? Yes, but that’s not the only reason. Gummy bears by Haribo & Co are coated with beeswax to give them a shiny appearance and to prevent them from sticking together in the package. 

6. Cotton

cotton fabric
Without bees cotton production would be impossible. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Bobbycrim Engin Akyurt)

Around half of all clothing worldwide is at least partially made of cotton – and if bees were to go extinct, cotton production would be impossible.

You can help bees by choosing to buy clothing made from fair-trade and organic cotton. The ban on pesticides in organic farming removes one of the biggest risk factors to bees that exists within conventional agriculture. 

Even better, switch to buying secondhand clothes instead of new, or try to generally consume less. You can find tips on how to get started here: Minimalist Wardrobe: Closet Clearing Tips and Tricks.

7. Canola and Sunflower Oil

Canola oil bee extinction
If bees were extinct, there would be a lot less canola and sunflower oil. (Photo: www.colourbox.de, CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Pixaline)

Although canola and sunflower plants are self-pollinating, additional pollination by bees significantly increases crop yield. 

Canola and sunflower oil have a wide range of uses, from prepared foods to chips, cake, sauces, dips, and…

8. … Margarine

bee extinction margarine
Margarine is based on vegetable oils. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Doornekamph)

Margarine is made from plant oil like canola and sunflower oil, so if there was a bee extinction, it would also disappear or become significantly less available.

Want to remind yourself why you need margarine in your life? Try out this vegan apple pie recipe. 

9.  Cured Meats

Bee extinction cured meats
Even cured meats could disappear should bees ever go extinct. (Photo: © www.colourbox.de)

Wondering what bees have to do with dried meats? Animal feed for pigs and cows are largely comprised of soy, which is self-pollinating and therefore not dependent on bees.

But if bees go extinct, we lose cured meats for a different reason: the typical flavor of many cured meats relies on the presence of herbs, which are not self-pollinating. 

Although it won’t necessarily help the bees, we recommend eating meat less often, and choosing higher-quality organic meats on the occasions that you do indulge.

Read on: Going Vegan: 5 Simple Steps towards a Vegan Diet

10. Morning Beverages: Coffee and Almond Milk

what would happen if bees went extinct
Almond and coffee crops are among several things that would be severely affected by bee extinction. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Chevanon Photography )

If you’re the type to start your day with a steaming cup of coffee, or you like to put almond milk on your cereal, you’ll want to do your part to save the bees. If bees went extinct, we’d lose out on Robusta varieties of coffee because the plants rely on the bees for cross pollination.

What would happen to almond milk if bees went extinct? Considering the California almond crop requires 80 billion bees for pollination every year, you could kiss your almonds and almond milk goodbye.

To help take some of the stress off the bees, consider trying a different plant-based milk such as soy milk, cashew milk or oat milk.

Prevent the Bees from Going Extinct: You Can Help

The list goes on and on. There are countless processed foods that we could no longer produce if bee extinction occurred. But luckily for us, it isn’t too late to make a difference; we still have time to do something about the declining bee population. How about planting some flowers for bees?

Here are some resources to help you learn more about what you can do to help:

This article was translated from German to English by Christie Sacco. You can view the original here: 10 Dinge, die es nicht mehr gibt, wenn die Bienen verschwinden

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