Tea and honey go together like peanut butter and jelly, rice and butter, pasta and sauce. We know, from tea experts here, how environmental, and even political factors can affect tea production. And now we have discovered that tea’s favorite sweetener, honey, is being threatened – by harm to the honeybee – from a number of sources.
Pesticides, factory farming favoring high margin crops, lack of plant species honeybees need to survive, mites, fungus – and maybe factors we don’t even know about yet – have drastically harmed honeybee colonies.
Not only do the bees produce honey, they pollenate essential food crops, and up to one-third of our food supply could be affected. Years before the epidemic of bee death, a genius named Albert Einstein surmised: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more men.”
More recently, another phenomenon has been occurring, which is collapse of the colony. Worker bees simply and suddenly just disappear, leaving the colony decimated. Scientists have theories, but nothing conclusive, as to why this is happening.
Those are the facts, but let’s not end on a negative note. There are actions all of us can take to help in our own little way, while the great scientists ponder potential solutions on a grander scale. We can stop using pesticides (I’ve read even ‘organic’ sprays that have dire warnings); we can plant species that bees live on (as they are literally starving); we can support beekeepers in our area by buying local honey; and we can make others aware of the situation.
Next time you put a spoon or squeeze of honey in your tea, remember that even if a mega-corporation can produce artificial honey-like substances, only bees can make real honey. and mega-corporations can’t pollinate one-third of foods we need to survive.
Or can they?
If the bees are gone, they will need to think of something . . . and fast.
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Article originally posted in May 2014, written by Diane Walden.