Why are the world's most prolific pollinators a consideration for personal care products? Bees have a dramatic effect on the planet. Without them, many ecosystems would fail. Meaning, many of the all-natural ingredients we love could disappear altogether. And more than that, there could be a food shortage. Since bee populations are dying off at a high rate, we wanted to look into how Wellnesse practices affect the bees. Especially since it could drastically change the world that our kids will inherit.
Exactly What Bees Do for Our Food Sources
Bee stings aren't everyone's ideal summer afternoon activity. There are plenty of other enjoyable activities besides accidentally disturbing a hive full of wild bees. Unless you're a beekeeper, stinging still is not the goal. However, there is a large group who argue that bees are fascinating. They provide so much for the ecosystems in the world. Getting stuck with a stinger is a small price for how much good they do (unless you are allergic).
Most of us know that the thing bees are exceptional at is pollination. All bees do it. Honey bees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, female bees, male bees, and even solitary bees. They all transfer pollen grains to help plants reproduce. Without this, many food sources wouldn't populate as well, and we would face a food shortage.
All the different categories and species of bees have this in common. But there are some differences between them.
- Honey bees are the big breadwinners for the US. They are social bees, collecting pollen and protein for the hive. They pollinate food crops, produce honey and royal jelly, and only sting if they feel the hive is in danger. They are not originally native to North America. They came from Europe.
- Bumblebees (Bombus) are also considered social bees. They are more efficient pollinators than honey bees, and the females do the collecting. They search more for pollen than for nectar.
- Carpenter bees also pollinate flowering plants. But we know this kind by their most annoying habit. They make holes in our wooden structures. Although we don't want them to ruin the wood, we shouldn't kill them either.
- Solitary bees are bees who leave the hive and live alone. They pollinate all sorts of plant species across the world, ensuring thriving communities in far-reaching areas.
- Worker bees are essential to honey bee colonies. They tend to the Queen, clean the hive, and forage. Without them, the colony suffers. So does the world because many native plants thrive off of bee pollination.
- Queen bees lay the eggs. They are the chess grandmasters of establishing the bee colony and directing the unity of the hive by producing chemical scents.
- All bees are insects in the order of Hymenoptera. Others in this order include wasps and ants for reference.
Understanding the different roles of bees within their hierarchy helps give light to the ecosystem that it is. At the end of the day, if pollination from these bees stops, so does the reproduction of many crops. The bee-cosystem sustains most of our food, allowing our ecosystems to thrive.
Why Bee Pollination Might Stop
Bees are dying. But what does that mean for the planet?
Since bees pollinate over 75% of the world's plants, many plants would begin dying off as well as entire ecosystems destroyed. Food would become scarce. More than just the ingredients we so love would be affected. All of our lives would reap these consequences.
One of the hard truths about this potential loss is that humans are responsible for a large chunk of the population decline. Fortunately, there are things we can do about it.
First, you may have heard of something called colony collapse disorder. It's not the same thing as population decline.
Colony collapse disorder is the sudden disappearance of worker bees. The Queen is left behind, along with ample food. The colony is considered dead at this point.
Regarding how we contribute to population decline (not colony collapse disorder), some of the pesticides used in farming practices harm bees. A study found that even nonlethal exposure to certain pesticides is devastating to bees because of homing failure, also threatening colony collapse. Another study noted how exposure to nicotine-based pesticides (neonicotinoids) impairs the physical ability to fly in bees.
Current mass agricultural strategies often include harmful practices. Think of some of the most populated crops dispersed around the US. Corn, soybeans, and more fruits and veggies are all mass-produced and processed. The environmental working group has identified neonics (nicotine-based pesticides) as the most widely used pesticide to spray these crops. Those foods are in nearly everything eaten in the average US diet.
While pollinating, bees are exposed to these pesticides and bring them back to their hive (if they make it). Samples of them have been found in honey all over the world. So, what can we do?
Positive Practices Protecting Pollinators
The organic center has determined that organic farming practices can support the health of bees. They emphasize two critical ways organic farming accomplishes this.
First, organic farming standards push for the consideration and use of something called IPM. That stands for integrated pest management. IPM is a more long-term goal of building a good ecosystem of bugs that support the growth of crops and keep the farms healthier. It has strategies involving a look into why certain pests come and changing factors that allow for growth without mass murdering them with harmful sprays. But it takes diligence and patience.
Second, organic farmers use more diversity in what they are farming to allow for better ecosystems to build. This practice provides healthier soil, nutrient-dense crops, and more sustainable health for both farms and the people who benefit from them.
Beekeeping is another helpful practice. The more intimacy developed with the life of bees you have, the better you understand their importance and can nurture it. But not everyone wants to be a beekeeper, and not everyone needs to be. However, we should all respect bees.
There is hope for bees! We can influence change for the better. For our part, we have made our business practices transparent. You can check each ingredient we use against the EWG database and see how clean it is. Each ingredient is sustainably sourced, supporting the world in which we live. We are dedicated to contributing to a positive impact, which is why we're B Corp certified.
Families and the world deserve clean, all-natural ingredients. You deserve effective hair care and toothpaste that is good for you, safe for the planet and works better than conventional alternatives. Shop Wellnesse to support a healthier planet, naturally whiter smiles, and naturally thicker hair.
López-Uribe, M. M., & Simone-Finstrom, M. (2019). Special Issue: Honey Bee Research in the US: Current State and Solutions to Beekeeping Problems. Insects, 10(1), 22. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010022
Henry M, Béguin M, Requier F, Rollin O, Odoux JF, Aupinel P, Aptel J, Tchamitchian S, Decourtye A. A common pesticide decreases foraging success and survival in honey bees. Science. 2012 Apr 20;336(6079):348-50. DOI: 10.1126/science.1215039. Epub 2012 Mar 29. PMID: 22461498.
Tosi S, Burgio G, Nieh JC. A common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, impairs honey bee flight ability. Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 26;7(1):1201. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01361-8. PMID: 28446783; PMCID: PMC5430654.
For National Honey Bee Day, Show Some Love for Pollinators. Environmental Working Group. (2021, June 4). https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/national-honey-bee-day-show-some-love-pollinators.
The Organic Center. (n.d.). https://www.organic-center.org/pollinator-health.