We see them everywhere, but are honey bees in danger?
That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”Joel 2:12
Imagine a World Without Chocolate
“Sarah?” I called as I looked around the small remote parking lot. “Sarah?” I couldn’t find her anywhere. She had tired of my quest for new bird species and returned to the car almost an hour ago. I wondered why I saw so many cars when I hadn’t met any new hikers on my way down.
Just when panic started to build, I saw a piece of paper fluttering under my windshield wiper. I grabbed the note and read, “I went to a meeting at the Research Station up the road.”
Interesting. I went to the entrance of the Florida Canyon headquarters of the Santa Rita Experimental Range (operated through the University of Arizona). Following the sound of voices, I eventually entered the back door of a meeting room filled with several dozen people. Sarah sat in the back corner, and I slid into a chair beside her.
“How did you end up here?” I whispered.
“A man saw me hanging around the parking lot and asked if I wanted to listen to a lecture. He said it was about honey bees in danger or something, so I went with him.”
“Oh,” I replied, as I turned my attention to the front of the room where a scientist presented his findings on the declining population of honey bees.
“Imagine a world without chocolate,” he said.
Are Honey Bees in Danger?
“Without honey bees and other pollinators,” the researcher said, “we wouldn’t have chocolate or almonds.”
Or dark chocolate-covered almonds, I thought. The man had my attention.
“Over the past ten years, the bee population has declined in southwest Arizona,” he continued. “Some of the factors influencing their decline include the deadly Varooa mite, climate change, and habitat destruction.”
For the next thirty minutes, I listened as the scientist laid out the problems facing honey bees (as well as other native bee species). He explained what would happen if the levels of pollinators got too low. At the end of his presentation, he shared steps we could take to help them.
I can’t remember all his suggestions, but I remember these five.
Steps You Can Take Now
- Plant things that attract bees. Fruit trees and flowers both provide excellent sources of nectar for bees.
- Become a citizen scientist. Take photos of bees and upload them to iNaturalist. Researchers look at the photos and locations of different species and use the information to track native bee species.
- Avoid using chemical pesticides and herbicides in your lawn or garden, and avoid synthetic fertilizers. It doesn’t do any good to grow giant plants if you kill the pollinators in the process.
- In Arizona and other dry environments, keep a dish of water filled with small rocks on the porch for the bees. They get thirsty, too.
- Do your part to reduce your carbon footprint. Recycle, reuse, and reconsider whether you need that new thing.
If we care about chocolate, we should care about bees. Now is the time to save honey bees in danger. Not twenty years from now. Honey bees have a chance if we all do our part as faithful stewards of God’s creation.
Father God, help me to consider my place as a caretaker of your creation. Let the Holy Spirit remind me that the time to act is now—in my spiritual and stewardship lives.