One in three bites of food eaten around the world depends on pollinators; these images show how bleak our plates would be without our partners in pollination.
Bees have had a rough go of it in the last decade or so. Thanks to a number of debilitating factors, bee populations have plummeted steadily over the past years. Last year a U.N.-sponsored report concluded that some 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (like bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. Also last year, for the first time ever, a number of bee species were added to U.S. endangered species list. And earlier this month a species of bumblebee was added to the same list, another first.
Of course first and foremost this is bad news for bees; but it's bad for us as well. Beyond losing honey, without the pollination efforts of bees we'd lose alfalfa and clover and other things that cattle feed on, meaning the loss of much of our meat and dairy. Most alarming perhaps is the significant amount of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables that we would lose – removing these important sources of plant-based nutrition from our diets could easily lead to a drastic decline in human health.
With all of this in mind, Fairmont Hotels created these images to show just what meals without bees might look like. If you're wondering why a chain of luxury hotels would put something like this together, it's because they have been fighting for the bees for almost a decade. Their Bee Sustainable program has resulted in more than 40 honeybee apiaries and wild bee hotels on properties around the world. The number of bees they provide homes for is remarkable! I visited the bees at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver a few years ago and was impressed not only with the 500,000 bees, but the large and productive terrace herb garden where they forage. The Fairmont Vancouver Airport hosts a wonderful one million honeybees living in 34 beehives – which produce about 2,400 pounds of honey.
Anyway, sometimes the best way to get a point across is visually; I think these photos do a pretty good job.
Breakfast with bees
Breakfast without bees
What's missing? Almonds, blueberries, coffee, orange juice, pumpkin seeds (granola), rapeseed (oil) spread, raspberries, strawberries, sunflower spread (oil) and seeds.
Lunch & Dinner with bees
Lunch & Dinner without bees
What's missing? Cucumbers, mustard, onions, peppers, potatoes, sesame seeds, tomatoes.
Dessert with bees
Dessert without bees
What's missing? Apples, blackberries, kiwi, pumpkins.
If you want to do your part to help the bees, this guide from the New York Bee Sanctuary has some great tips.