In the past three days, more than a dozen SurvivalBlog readers e-mailed this article link from The Telegraph: Honeybees may be wiped out in 10 years. I can not overstate that this is very alarming news. If the honeybee hive losses are universal in the “breadbasket” regions in the middle latitudes around the world, it would be cataclysmic for agriculture. The loss of honeybees for pollination because of CCD and/or successive waves of disease could very well cause a global famine that might result in a 20%+ die-off of global population and veritable TEOTWAWKI.
Even if there is just an outside chance of a honeybee die-off, it is prudent to redouble your preparedness efforts:
Food storage. Increase the depth of your family’s food storage program. Heretofore, I had recommended a two year supply. I am now recommending a four year supply.
Seed gathering and storage. Gardening without the help of bees will make seed saving all the more important. Keeping a four year supply of non-hybrid (open pollinated or “heirloom”) seeds is now appropriate. Without bees, the chances of a “zero yield” year of seed gathering for any particular variety goes up considerably. Having extra seed will be crucial for charity and barter–to supply your friends and neighbors.
Greenhouses. Increase your area “under glass.” If you live in snow country, then buy a greenhouse that can take a snow load, like a Turtle Tuff geodesic dome greenhouse. Two other advantages of these greenhouses are that 1.) they can be disassembled in a few hours and put in storage seasonally, and 2.) they can also easily be taken with you if you need to relocate your retreat.
Hand pollinating. Practice the art of hand pollinating. Every fruit and vegetable we eat cannot be produced by a plant without a flower being pollinated. Plantsmen have been hand pollinating for more than 100 years to breed new varieties. This involves mimicking bees by carrying pollen from one flower to another–typically with a feather, Q-Tip or a small paintbrush. This is very labor intensive. It might be prudent to start thinking along the lines of which plants produce the most food per pollination. For example pollinating apple blossoms would yield more calories per pollination than a cherry blossom. And beefsteak tomatoes would yield more per pollination than a cherry tomatoes. In a world without bees, think of terms of dwarf or semi-dwarf variety fruit trees, to make hand pollinating easier. (It is not realistic to expect to be able to hand pollinate 25 feet up a ladder.)
In closing, think through the full implications of a honeybee die off. Fruit might only be readily available in Third World countries, where there is a large pool of cheap labor for hand pollination. First World countries with a lack of agricultural day laborers might suffer. Will hundreds of thousands of Mexican farm workers be allowed into California, Florida, and Texas for hand pollination work each spring? What will be the secondary and tertiary effects of a honeybee die-off? Plan accordingly.