Bees are all the buzz these days. And for good reason. Their critical contribution to agriculture has long been unknown and unheralded by the public.
This fall I had the opportunity to work on the documentary film Silence of the Bees which kicked off the new season of PBS Nature this past Sunday (10/28). The film investigates Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – the rapid disappearance of billions of honeybees from hives around the world - and shines a light on the vital role honeybees play in our economy and the food we put on our tables.
When I first heard about CCD I wondered if honey prices would go up – little did I know that honey could be the least of our problems. Honeybees pollinate almost 100 of our most important crops – about a third of the food we eat. From fruits like apples, berries and citrus to vegetables like cucumbers, squash and garlic, not to mention nuts and seeds (it takes more than a million bee colonies each year to pollinate California's almond crop alone!).
Modern agriculture has grown to a point where wild pollinators (wild bees, butterflies, even bats) are not enough to do the job so we rely on beekeepers to transport their hives thousands of miles around the country to pollinate crops. Now that honeybees are in crisis, our food – especially the healthiest and most delicious part of our diet- is in crisis, too.
In case you missed it, Silence of the Bees may be re-airing on your local PBS station. Click here to search local listings.
For ideas on how you can help the bees, see the PBS website.