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 our world could look like after a bee extinction. 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 nine things:
1. Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
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
If there’s no more fruit, then it won’t be possible to make fruit products (surprise!). No more bees, no more orange juice with your breakfast in the morning, no more apple cider or apple pie on autumn afternoons, etc.
To help prevent this from happening, 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
What do cosmetics 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 there were no more bees, but plant-based ingredients are found first and foremost in certified natural cosmetics, which means bee extinction would cause the most ecological and fair-trade cosmetic products to disappear first.
4. Vegetables: Cucumbers, Pumpkins, and Avocado
What would happen 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
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.
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
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
Margarine is made from plant oil like canola and sunflower oil, so it would also disappear or become significantly less available if there was a bee extinction.
Want to remind yourself why you need margarine in your life? Try out this vegan apple pie recipe.
9. Cured Meats
What could bees possibly 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.
Bee extinction would mean we lose cured meats for a different reason: creating 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.
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 we no longer had bees. But very 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** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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