A Coffee Drinker’s Favorite Insect: the Bee
Coffee lovers everywhere owe a small debt to one small, yet industrious and valuable insect: the bee.
The relationships between coffee and bees is an interesting one that has actually encouraged researchers to study it. What they’ve found is really cool: bees around the world contribute to as much as 36% of the value of coffee crops in a given country.
Bees help coffee and other crops because they pollinate flowers. Coffee isn’t one of those crops that really depends on bee pollination – Arabica coffee plants pollinate themselves – but pollination does affect the quality and quantity of a coffee crop.
In Panama, for example, researchers think bee pollination accounts for that 36% of production, with most of that coming from your neighborhood-friendly honey bee. In Indonesia, that number is around 12%.
What kind of value does that represent? It’s estimated that bees are worth up to approximately $360 million per year for the coffee economy. That’s enough to buy almost 84,800 lattes at one of our coffee shops. (Wouldn’t that be awesome?)
Protecting the Bees
But, there’s bad news: bees are dying – a lot.
Global bee populations have been declining for a while. No one is 100% sure why, although a lot of researchers think insecticides are to blame.
This trend is disturbing to scientists and growers alike, since a lot of crops depend on bee pollination of some kind. And even crops like coffee that aren’t completely dependent on bees will probably cost more and be less economical if bees keep dying.
One solution that can protect the bees is sustainable, ecological farming. This kind of farming forgoes harmful insecticides, choosing more organic ways to manage pests without harming bee populations.
A symbiotic relationship develops between bees and sustainable farms. The bees help the farm, and the farm helps the bees by giving them plenty of places to pollinate – which lets the bees thrive.
If you want to learn more about how you can save the bees, you can visit the Greenpeace website and take action there.