Honeybee populations grew as European settlements grew, and especially as European agriculture grew. Vast fields of and orchards needed pollinators that could swarm in the hundreds of thousands and only one pollinator did that – the honeybee.
Yes, other bees can pollinate small gardens and orchards – the bumblebee, the mason bees (which are very good at pollinating fruit trees, so much so that they are also known as orchard bees), and others. The problem is that the hives (or nests as they are called with bumblebees) aren’t very big. The orchard bees, for instance, are solitary creatures. They don’t have workers or a queen. Each bee cares for its own brood. So none of these species have the number that honeybee hives have, which is essential to pollinate the huge agribusiness of today. This is why it is said that every third bite of food you eat depends on the honeybee.
Since Big Agribusiness cannot prosper without the honeybee, controversial multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto is one of the major researchers searching to cure Colony Collapse Disorder.
What’s the takeaway? Big Business Agriculture depends on the honeybee, – actually depends on the honeybee much more than do small family farms. Does this make the honeybee a good guy or a bad guy? Both and neither. Either way, we can’t feed this overpopulated planet without it.