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Environment & Energy

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(15,422 posts)
Sun May 12, 2024, 06:48 AM May 12

We've been trying to save the wrong bees [View all]

(6 min. audio, transcript at link)

We've been trying to save the wrong bees

MAY 11, 2024 5:58 PM ET
6-Minute Listen

Popular slogans and ad campaigns have urged the public to save honeybees. But reports suggest those efforts were directed at saving the wrong bees.


For years now, conventional wisdom, popular slogans and ad campaigns have heralded the same message - we need to save the honeybees. Products from peanut butter to shampoo were proudly declared bee friendly, and companies promised to do their part to promote bee conservation. But do honeybees actually need saving? Joining us now is Rich Hatfield, a bee conservationist with the Xerces Society. Rich, thanks for being here.

RICH HATFIELD: Thanks so much for having me.

DETROW: Let's start with this popular idea that we had for years that we needed to save the honeybees. Where did that come from, the idea that honeybees were at risk of extinction?

HATFIELD: Well, I think back in the mid-2000s, we started losing a large number of honeybee hives to kind of a mystery disease that we called colony collapse disorder at the time. And honeybee keepers were losing, you know, upwards of 50% of their hives every winter at that time, and people got concerned. They learned that, you know, 1 out of 3 bites of food that we eat comes from plants that were pollinated by a bee. And they learned that - you know, they knew that honeybees were important for that. And so there was this sort of large movement to save the bees. And so I think people sort of just learned honeybees are in trouble, and I need to do something.


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