Science

Unexpected Things That Would Happen If Bees Died Out  

Jeff Richard
16.8k views 8 items

As children, many of us believed the world harbored the types of dangers we often only read about or saw in films. One could step in quicksand if they weren't careful. A clown outbreak could strike at any moment. And if we learned just one thing from My Girl, bees were stinger-wielding lunatics, bent on attacking us if we got too close to them. 

Of course, as we grew older, we realized how irrational some of these fears were. Quicksand is virtually nonexistent, and clowns only attack if you happen to walk a little too close to a storm drain. 

And as for bees? Well, bees turned out to be pretty great the more we got to know them. 

Not only are they nice enough to make honey - something which more than makes up for a sting or two growing up - but they're responsible for virtually our entire system of crops. Fruits, vegetables, plants, they all come down to bee pollen. And the problem is, the bee population has been steadily dwindling over the past several decades due to the rampant use of pesticides. 

So, what happens if the bees die? Click through to find out exactly why we were wrong to be afraid of them, and why we should be afraid for them. Colony collapse disorder is real, and its effects have the potential to be disastrous.

Many Fruits and Vegetables Would Die Out
Many Fruits and Vegetables Wou... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Unexpected Things That Would Happen If Bees Died Out
Photo:  greekfood-tamystika/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

As anyone who's visited Whole Foods can attest to, fruits and vegetables are oftentimes far too expensive to begin with. But what happens when they're in such short supply that they become a rare commodity? 

That's exactly what would happen without honeybees, as they regularly pollinate such crops as apple, peach, and avocado trees, and strawberries, blueberries, and watermelons, among countless others. And with no bees, we run the risk of entering a Mad Max-style world where only the wealthy elite can indulge in once-plentiful fruits and vegetables. 

So, basically, every store becomes a Whole Foods. 

Beekeepers Would Be Out of Work
Beekeepers Would Be Out of Wor... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Unexpected Things That Would Happen If Bees Died Out
Photo:  Unsplash/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Sorry, Flea, but there's some bad news: along with thousands of other beekeepers around the world, you won't have any bees to keep.  

Apiaries and beekeepers help harvest bee by-products like honey and beeswax. That is, with more beekeepers working hard to maintain the bee population with controlled hives, the better the chances we have of keeping our crops from vanishing. But if there weren't enough bees to maintain an apiary, beekeepers would lose their jobs, which is a terrible thing in a good economy, but in an economy where the cost of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods has skyrocketed? The result could be catastrophic.

Entire Harvests Can Collapse
Entire Harvests Can Collapse is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Unexpected Things That Would Happen If Bees Died Out
Photo:  Couleur/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Now we're starting to get into trouble. Perhaps you think you can live without fruits and vegetables, and a part of your childhood dream has come true: you never have to eat Brussels sprouts ever again. But here's the problem: it's not only your least-favorite childhood side dishes that will go away. Honeybees also pollinate chilli, red, green, and bell peppers, which means no more sriracha for you! Now are you paying attention? Good, because there's another doozy that you're gonna sorely miss: coffee. That right, honeybees pollinate coffee too.

Colony collapse disorder is what happens when bee populations plummet, and its effects can be further-reaching than many people realize. According to a research team at the University of Geneva, "The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that out of some 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated. In Europe alone, 84% of the 264 crop species are animal- pollinated and 4 000 vegetable varieties exist thanks to pollination by bees." If all the bees died out, we'd lose 71 out of our 100 most-used foods.

Say Goodbye to Almonds
Say Goodbye to Almonds is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Unexpected Things That Would Happen If Bees Died Out
Photo:  Pezibear/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

You may not think there's much of a correlation between bees and almonds, but in fact, our buzzing yellow friends are actually one of the main sources of nourishment when it comes to almond growth.

While it's commonly known that almonds require A LOT of water, they also need a lot of love from honeybees. So much so, in fact, that almond crops in California alone require about 1.7 million hives' worth of honey.