It’s a bright, sunny morning and you’ve made some healthy buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. Digging through your pantry for some punchy, flavourful toppings, you pull out blueberry jam, almond butter, and some honey. Thinking briefly about the bees that make your honey, you spread a liberal amount of the sweet, sticky topping on your pancakes. Little do you realize, it’s not just honey that bees are responsible for. Without bees, you would not have any ingredients that make up your breakfast! Buckwheat pancakes, blueberry jam, and almond butter all come from crops that bees play a large role in pollinating.
The other thing you may not know? Bees are dying rapidly, and that leaves a myriad of unknown or negative impacts for our world.
Why are bees so important?
Bees do so much more than make honey! As pollinators, they are responsible for the growth of many flowers, trees, and other plants. Bees are the reason many of us have watermelon in the summer, apples in the fall, and many other staple foods like cabbage, cauliflower, and celery. In fact, up to a third of crops depend on bee pollination to some degree. 
News flash! Bees don’t just exist so you have your breakfast condiments on the table. In addition to pollinating the crops we depend on for food, and all the other plants that make up our diverse ecosystem, bees are also a food source for other animals on the food chain. Without them, our ecosystem wouldn’t thrive!
Why are bees dying?
There’s a couple of reasons why bees have been dying in unprecedented numbers. The most prevalent reason is the use of strong chemical pesticides on crops. These chemical pesticides are used by farmers who wish to protect their crops from pests like locusts, weevils, and worms. Many farmers whose livelihoods depend on plentiful harvests can’t afford to have their crops decimated by pests, and opt for chemical pesticides which have killed off bee populations as a result. In turn, the livelihoods of beekeepers and farmers who grow bee-dependent crops have suffered.
A second reason that bees are dying off so quickly is the loss of wild habitats for bees. Land that was once a natural home for bees continues to be rezoned for other uses, whether for building, farming, or other purposes. With nowhere to go, many bee populations are dwindling.
This past year in Canada, a-cooler-than-usual spring has meant a species of mites, the varroa mite, began reproducing early and rapidly, spreading viruses among the bees as they fed on bees blood. These mites decimated bee populations, with some farmers losing up to 80% of their bees. 
What is being done to save the bees?
Organizations like Greenpeace have action plans on ensuring the survival of bees. By banning the seven most dangerous pesticides, protecting natural habitats, and restoring ecological agricultural practices, our governments can take action to help bee populations survive.
In Food for the Hungry partner communities, beekeeping is growing in popularity. Community members are looking for new and better ways to farm, bring in income, and feed their families. It’s also a source for healthy carbohydrates with natural preservatives, making it a sweet and practical addition to any family’s pantry.
FH also prioritizes sharing new and productive farming methods that are environmentally-friendly, so beekeeping has become a key part of restorative agriculture, and it’s helped keep local bee populations alive and helped with the pollination of various fruits and vegetables in gardens. Beekeeping, when done alongside gardening, helps both practices thrive.
|Sokoan's bee colony is thriving!|
Sokoan is a Cambodian farmer in an FH partner community, and she can attest to how life-changing beekeeping has been! She’s kept two different species of bees, and has found that the local Cambodian species of bees are much hardier than the bees imported from Europe. Thanks to her beehives, she’s helping the local bee population stay healthy! In addition, she makes about $300 CAD annually which helps pay for her day to day living costs.
At Food for the Hungry we believe there’s a deeper change that is required to save the bees, in addition to the practical changes. At its core, the reason bees are dying is because of a broken relationship with creation. This brokenness plays out when profit takes precedence over a healthy, thriving environment. We see this in the use of harsh (but available, cheap, and effective) chemical pesticides which help preserve more of the cash crop, but ultimately turn bee populations into collateral damage. Or when spaces are rezoned for the expansion of our cities without considering what else besides humans needs to live there. To go about resolving this broken relationship with creation, we need to start questioning our own understanding of the environment and the role of plants and animals in our lives. What are bees for, if not to make my breakfast condiments?
In FH partner communities, bees are a means of income for families, as well as a help to the environment. You can help families in partner communities and help keep bee populations healthy at the same time!