Just how important are honeybees? Typically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these under-appreciated workers pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops, which constitute one-third of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed. One Cornell University study estimated that honeybees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S. Essentially, if honeybees disappear, they could take most of our insect pollinated plants with them, potentially reducing mankind to little more than a water diet.
Just last year, it seemed there was something to celebrate despite planet Earth’s ongoing honeybee apocalypse: Bee colony losses were down. Not by enough, but they were down: a loss of 23 percent of bee colonies — less than 30 percent, the average from 2005 to 2013. “It’s not good news.”
Though scientists cited progress in battles against an Asian mite that has killed many an American bee, they had words of caution.
But, the Bee Informed Partnership, affiliated with the Department of Agriculture, just announced more than 40 percent of honeybee hives died this past year, as the Associated Press reported. The number is preliminary, but is the second-highest annual loss recorded to date.
“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” study co-author Keith Delaplane of the University of Georgia told the AP. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”
This is a really big problem. And, I’m not sure what to do about it.
So I will bake for the bees.
That’s just what I do.
Simple Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 medium egg
1 Tbs. cream
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg white
colored candy sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the egg, cream, salt, and vanilla. Continue to beat well. Sift in the flour and mix until the dough is formed. Mold into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
Dusting a surface with additional flour, roll out dough and cut into desired cookie shapes.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or so, until barely golden brown.
Allow to cool.
Whisk together powdered sugar and egg white to form royal icing. Pipe onto cookies and sprinkle with sugar.