The Secret Life of Bees
“In the end, we only conserve what we love, we only love what we understand, and we understand only what we are taught.”
Under the dabbled light of a subtropical forest, the sweet smell from coffee flowers entices one of java’s smallest customers: the honeybee.
Honeybees are attracted to coffee flowers for their sugary, high-quality nectar. According to recent studies, visits from pollinators have been shown to increase coffee yields by as much as 50%.
Although bees are not required to pollinate Coffea arabica plants, they are valued by coffee farmers for their positive impact on the crop uniformity and ability to create a great source of income through the sales of honey and combs.
Outside of the coffee fields and on our home soil, honeybees play a major role in the ecosystem and the economy. Currently 1/3 of the crops grown in America depend on pollinators to ensure a successful harvest, and bees are estimated to add more than $15 billion in value to our agricultural crops annually.
Unfortunately, these hardworking insects are under threat.
Over the last 20 years, there has been a noticeable and steady decline in the bee population. In 2016, the research group BeeInformed reported that 44% of its respondents saw a loss of their colonies. This staggering number means that almost half of hives being studied were lost completely – a disturbing trend that has continued since the 90s. Researchers have tied this loss to a number of factors including loss of plant diversity, increase in pesticides (specifically neonicotinoids), decrease in habitat, hive mites, and colony collapse disorder.
In the last decade, the outcry at this loss has resulted in initiatives to research the causes, address known factors in pollinator decline, and invest in solutions to address the issues. In 2015, the White House created a fully funded Pollinator Health Task Force that released their own pollinator plan to coordinate inter-agency partnerships to address the issue.
The Bee Cause Project
The National Coffee Association became involved when it selected the Bee Cause Project as one of their partners in the Coffee Gives Back Day of Service in Charleston, South Carolina.