Bees extinct through pesticides

If the bee is going to be extinct, so are we?

Since 1945, the amount of beehives has been reduced twice in today’s Western World. This is caused by changes in agriculture. Over the years, farmers have chosen to use manure over lucerne or clover. Especially clover is an important source of food for bees. In addition to that, farmers have been using weed killers more and more since 1945. These weedkillers not only kill weed, but also flowering plants. Another important factor why bees are struggling to survive in the world of today is because farmers started to cultivate monocultures that cover a huge amount of agriculture area. Back in the days, bees had many options to feed and pollinate, but now it seems more like a desert on earth to them.

The use of pesticides pesticides and agriculture

After the change in fertilizing the ground, using weedkillers and monocultures, the battle for bees is still not over. After World War II, farmers started to use pesticides on a large scale. They started to do this to minimize the damage to monocultures. After all, monocultures like lettuce or crops are a paradise on earth for many other insects.

Types of pesticides

Researches from the Penn State University in the United States have discovered that every time a bee flies from flower to the bees hive to pollinate, it takes an average of six detectable pesticides with it. One of the most common types of pesticide is Neonicotinoids. This type spreads itself all over the plant. However, in most cases, only the seed of the plant is sprayed with the pesticide. This causes a lower level of nectar and pollen in a plant. Because most bees don’t get in direct contact with the seed, they don’t receive a high dose of insecticide. However, a low dose can cause a disorienting effect and that causes that bees sometimes don’t find their way back to the hive.

As if all these difficulties a bee has to face aren’t enough, it also has to face their biggest enemy; Varroa Destructor. This is a blood-sucking parasite that lives on many plants and flowers. It harms the immune system of the bee when attached and spreads diseases.

The Beekeeperbeekeeper to protect bees

Although we as humans find ourselves superior, we are actually not. Bees have never needed us and therefore, humans are more a problem to them than helpful. The Beekeeper is the final threat that a bee has to face, but this one can be changed easily. The Beekeeper should work as the ‘guardian’ of the bees, not the master. This is luckily the way many organic farms work. 

What if the bee is to be extinct?

Various media have been saying that humans will also die if the bee dies, inspired by the theory of Albert Einstein. He stated this many years ago, but wasn’t taken too seriously because as a physicist he talked outside his field of knowledge. Nevertheless, the number of bees is decreasing in many European countries. Although exact numbers are hard to find, according to Wageningen University, the amount of bees is as low as it can be in order to survive. The further decrease will have problematic effects. The pollination of food crops is in danger, as this is done by bees.

Economic crisis

Over the past few years, mainly bees received a lot of attention in the media. If the bee will disappear, so will seventy percent of the trade in vegetables and plants. This will cause an enormous worldwide economic crisis.

Less food

Research by the German scientist Alexandra-Maria Klein has shown that of the 115 most important food crops, 87 are pollinated by insects and 28 are not. Some crops, such as corn, rye, oats and spinach are pollinated by the wind and do not require insects other animals (e.g. birds).

If bees won’t longer provide for pollination, the first type of food that will disappear will be most likely strawberries. Although they get pollinated by bumblebees as well as other wild bees or hoverflies, the number of strawberries will decrease tremendously. As humans of today have found many smart technological solutions for almost everything, there will be most likely something to replace this problem as well. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take away that the variation of food will decrease.

According to Wageningen University, ten percent of our world food production will be lost if bees are going to be extinct. Also, the amount of variation in our food will decrease. Another problematic factor is that insects like bees help spread vitamins and minerals in our food, so if they extinct we as humans will lack many vitamins and minerals.

Food that doesn’t need pollinationbees are important

Although 76 percent of the crops in the world are pollination by insects like the bee, it is not so much if you put it into perspective. Sixty percent of our food comes from crops that do not depend on pollinators. Think of rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, and wheat. In addition to that, only thirteen percent of crops fully depend on animal pollinators.

Another important factor in our food production is that many greenhouse vegetables do not depend on pollination by honeybees. Most of the time, bumblebees are also doing the job. Nevertheless, also bumblebees are in the threat of extinction. The threats that bees are facing will affect all types of bees and other animals that cause pollination.

Conclusion

The answer to the question ‘if the bee goes extinct, are we also to be extinct?’, would be no. Would this be a complete world disaster? Yes. If the bee is to extinct and worldwide food production will be reduced by ten percent, it will cause even more scarcity in places where there is already limited food access. Also in rich countries, it will cause poverty and financial issues. Moreover, food that doesn’t depend on pollination, like rice and grain will be still produced. However, this might be the only option to eat in the long term, since the variation of food will decrease immensely if the bee is to be extinct.

what is aquaponics

Why Aquaponics is the future

Aquaponics makes it possible to grow your own fresh vegetables and fish. The combination of fish and plants creates a smart, sustainable cycle. The plants are fed by the poop of the fish while the plants purify the water for the fish. A win-win situation it seems.

What exactly is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a combination of two words: aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture means ‘to grow organisms in water’. Hydroponics is growing plants without using soil or earth. Aquaponics is used in agriculture by the combination of both aquaculture and hydroponics in order to grow fish and feed plants at the same time in water basins.

How does Aquaponics work?

The poop of fish serves as manure for the plants in the water basin. It contains several minerals such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and ammonia. These minerals convert into nitrate that the plant will take up. The manure gets distributed through a pump that goes from one basin to the other. Apart from the manure from the fish, sometimes plants receive extra nutrition supplements like iron, calcium of magnesium. This process also serves for purifying the water.

The fish in the water cause contamination, mainly through poop. However, that contamination is collected around the roots of the plants. The roots automatically convert the bacteria that causes the contamination and the waste products in the water into nitrates. As said, nitrates are one of the minerals that feed plants. Therefore, the plants create a perfect self-purifying circle.

Benefits of Aquaponics

Aquaponics represents a sustainable and vicious cycle. It has a lot of benefits for farming. These are, among others;

  • 100% reuse of manure and raw materials.
  • 100% organic farming.
  • Control of the temperature; basins are usually inside and can be easily controlled with a temperature controller.
  • Control of water; the basins are usually located inside and therefore will not be affected by (heavily) rainfall like in normal agriculture.
  • Water consumption is controlled; the basin has always a solid amount of water that it needs. Whereas in normal agriculture a lot of water is used for irritation, depending on weather conditions.
  • No disturbance or holdbacks caused by weeds; everything grows without soil.
  • It’s a flexible system with different kind of sizes to grow plants and fish; has great adaption and can be set-up in almost any space.
  • It’s a fast system; plants grow fast because of the constant nutrition they receive.
  • Aquaponics requires less physical work and creates more profit than normal agriculture since it’s relatively cheap to have.
  • It can be used not only by companies but also by individuals. The system can be placed in any kind of space and therefore creates a self-sufficient living.

Aquaponics for individualsaquaponics for individuals

Aquaponics makes it possible to be self-sufficient, even if you are just living in an apartment with a balcony. However, the only thing you need to do is buy a basin with a couple of fishes and a (small) container or a second basin with plants. Between the basin and the plants, you need to place a pump so that both benefit of each other’s nutrition. This principle is pretty simple and although this kind of agriculture is more intensively used over the past few years, the base of has been around for centuries. For instance, Japanese people are using Koi Carp already for many years in their rice fields.

The fish

You can’t just place any fish in a pool for aquaponics. Tropical fishes, for instance, won’t work for aquaponics because the temperature of the water needs to stay below 30 degrees Celsius. Also, the exact temperature of the basin depends on the type of fish. Here are some examples of fish that can be used for Aquaponics;

  • Tilapia (11-17 °C basin)
  • Catfish (20-24 °C basin)
  • Goldfish (16-22 °C basin)
  • Trout (1-22 °C basin)
  • Barramundi (26-30 °C basin)

If you’d like to use the fish not only for aquaponics but also for food, try tilapia, or even shrimp or crayfish.

Where to create an Aquaponic space?

Whether you live on a farm or in the city, you will only need a small area for an Aquaponic space. Aquaponic doesn’t depend on sunlight or rainfall and therefore can be put on a balcony or in any room inside the house.

With Aquaponics, almost any vegetable can grow but there are some that grow better than others. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and kale grow very well in Aquaponics. Also, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are known to grow very fast. Among the fruits, strawberries grow the best in an Aquaponic space. Among the herbs, basil is the most suitable. Whenever you start growing vegetables, fruits or herbs you need to make sure there multiple mature plants inside the container so that the water can be purified any time.

DIY Aquaponics space

If you are planning on building an Aquaponic space inside your house, you can easily build it yourself. The only things you need are a ready-to-use storage rack and waste material made out of PVC. If you are planning on building a bigger space in for example the garden, you could take a look at buying an IBC (industrial packaging for liquids). This is a one-cubic-meter, watertight block that’s useful for growing much fish. You could build another block on top or next to the container with plants. Add a pump to create a passage for nutrition. You’ll be almost ready to use your aquaponic space. Make sure everything is tightened correctly and create the perfect water temperature according to the fish you’re going to use. Luckily, there are many short videos to be found on the internet. These guide you step by step how to create your own aquaponics space.

Apart from short videos, there are many articles and books about Aquaponics. One of those is ‘Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to raising vegetables and fish together’ by Sylvia Bernstein.

Aquaponics is the future from back in the days

Aquaponics is a very organic and environmentally friendly way to grow vegetables and fish. Despite the fact that Aquaponics has only been used for a couple of years now, it has an old characteristic. Thanks to Aquaponics, one can be self-sufficient, just like people were before the industrial revolution. This creates less mass-consumption, another factor why Aquaponics is so sustainable.