The use of neonicotinoids as well as other pesticides, insecticides and herbicides has been closely associated with a decline in pollinators. Honey bee numbers in the US and UK have dropped by around 50 per cent in the last 25 years.
90 per cent of the world’s food supply comes from about 100 crop species, and 71 of those crops (especially fruits and vegetables) rely on bees for pollination. Around 270 species of wild bee do the bulk of this work.
In August 2018, the current US administration overturned a ban on neonicotinoids brought in under Barack Obama.
There is growing evidence that the pesticides can harm domesticated honey bees as well as wild pollinators. This reinforced a moratorium dating back to 2013, which forbade their use in flowering crops that appeal to honey bees and other pollinating insects. Thiamethoxam has been shown in laboratory studies to dramatically reduce egg laying by queen bumblebees and all three neonicotinoids affect bees’ memory. Causing neurological problems and the bees were unable to find their way back to their hives.
- Bees travel an average of 3 miles from the hive to search for nectar
- A bee will make only about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime
- It takes about 1,150 bees to make one pound of honey
- Bees visit about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey
- A typical hive has about 60,000 bees, but only a small number of those leave the hive to look for food
Honey has been called the only food that truly lasts forever, thanks to its magical chemistry and the handiwork of bees. The nectar from flowers mixes with enzymes inside the bees that extract it, which changes the nectar’s composition and breaks it down into simple sugars that are deposited into honeycombs. Fanning action from the bees’ wings and the enzymes from their stomachs create a liquid that is both highly acidic and low in moisture—truly inhospitable digs for bacterial growth.
The processing and sealing of honey also adds to its indefinite shelf life. Despite being low in moisture, honey’s sugars are hygroscopic, which means that they take in moisture from the air. When the heated and strained honey is sealed properly, moisture cannot be absorbed, and the honey stays the same forever. The oldest jar of the sweet stuff ever found is believed to be 5500 years old.