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Middle School

What's the Buzz About Honey Bees?

By Leen Yassine, WSM 8th grade student

Note: Each year Middle School students write research papers to learn the process of researching, writing, and presenting a topic. This year, students were asked to research a topic and persuade people to take action. Leen asked to publish her topic in the newsletter to encourage readers to take action on her topic.

When many people think of honey bees, they imagine annoying insects that sting. Instead of swatting at them, it is time to realize how vital they are to the prosperity of human beings. But as society desires to increase crop production, they are ironically killing the one thing they need to do so: bees.

Honey bees in nearly every state in the country are dying. According to PBS, with the disappearing bees, so will one third of the crops in the United States- which is about one in every three bites of food that people eat! These bee disappearances are caused by a syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. In the article, “10 Crops That Would Disappear Without Bees,” Fox news writes that the cause of these drastic bee die-offs are monocultures, where a large amount of stress is put on bees. Bees are trucked around to a monoculture, where they spend months pollinating one type of crop, only to repeat the cycle. Heather Mattila, who studies honey bee behavior and genetics at Wellesley College says that like us, bees need their vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and other nutrients to have a well-functioning immune system, and bees receive all of this from the plants they pollinate. When bees are forced to live off of one crop, this is an insufficient diet. Monocultures also use large amounts of pesticides for their crops, damaging nature even more.

Pesticides, which are basically leftovers from chemical warfare, are being used on our produce. When the problem first appeared in France in 1994, systemic pesticides were believed to be the problem (Fox news). Systemic pesticides are a new type of pesticide that spread throughout the entire plant, sometimes getting into the pollen and nectar that bees feed on. As shown in the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees, many countries in Europe, including France, Germany, and Italy, have protested and banned troublesome pesticides. You may be asking yourself why we haven’t banned any of these harmful toxins, and it all stems back to the Environmental Protection Agency. It turns out that the EPA relies on the companies who make the pesticides for their data (Vanishing of the Bees)! So they are relying on the ones who will benefit the most from pesticide use. However, the good news is that even individual citizens can help save the honey bees!

1. Buy organic!

This is possibly one of the easiest ways to help the bees. Voting with our forks is powerful, as it is like boycotting the pesticides that poison our pollinators.

2. Make a bee-friendly garden!

Planting bee-friendly flowers, such as lavender and clover, and even planting blue, yellow, or purple flowers is a great way to attract bees. Setting out wood blocks gives bees a home as they feed and thrive off of your plants!

3. Sign petitions!

Many petitions are online to persuade Congress to make a change. Signing these is something easy you can do from home.

You can BEE the difference you hope to see!

View Leen's entire presentation to Middle School and visiting adults below.