Bees are disappearing and Asthma/Allergies are spiking in Ireland – is there a connection?
Nature, food production and food are intrinsically linked with human health. The air, soil, water, insects, animals all impact our health. We all depend on each other.
If you or a member of your family is increasingly suffering from Spring allergies, I suggest you eat local honey, local to your home, and see if it helps to reduce your symptoms. Local bees handle local pollen and by eating the honey, you eat the pollen grains and this in theory acts like a vaccine. You are feeding a sample of the offending pollen to your immune cells via your gut and encouraging them to become tolerant to it. I recommend starting as Spring approaches.
A probiotic bacteria – Lactobacillius Kunkeei, has been identified in honeybees and their honey. Eating raw honey supplies us with this probiotic. Raw honey is not heat-treated and is darker and creamier looking than processed honey. Probiotic foods help to bolster our immunity by stimulating our immune cells. Therefore, Raw Honey now joins the ranks of probiotic foods on this news update.
Luke O’Neill, Professor @ Trinity College Dublin suspects a correlation between the declining honeybee population and the spike in asthma and allergy in recent years in Ireland. With less bees around to handle the pollen, you get more free pollen. He acknowledges that this has yet to be scientifically proven but I love his common sense approach.
The FSAI tested honeys from Irish shops, that state on the jars,they are local Irish honey and found pollen grains not native to Ireland. This applied even to Irish labels such as Boyne Valley – always check the small print under ingredients. It would appear that the best place to buy Irish honey is from Irish Farmers markets. There is a county Dublin Beekeepers Association with listed members.
There is a global Colony Collapse Disorder in the Honeybee population. In Ireland last year, our largest beekeeper in Dungarvan, saw his hives reduced from 700 to 415. Dr Mary Coffey @ Limerick University has been monitoring hives for the last 5 years and recorded up to a 37% reduction in bee population. In Dec/2013 the EU banned one pesticide, neonicotinoid, for 2 years to see if it will make a difference. Update: I only discovered in 2019 that RoundUp was being used on the green areas around where I live and all of our fly and bee population have disappeared in the last 5 years or so. The EU has added Roundup to the prohibited pesticide list but time to Industry to use up the existing supplies!
The reasons for the drop in population are a loss of habitat (wild flower meadows and ditches) due to the Common Agricultural Policy, pesticides, weather and a virus from Indonesia transmitted by the Varroa mite who attacks the young bees, sucks their blood and leaves the virus in the bee which cripples it.
This is a bigger issue potentially as other bees are also declining along with honeybees. Bees pollinate vegetables – tomatoes, berries, apples, broccoli, cabbage, onion and many more. Declining bee populations may affect our local crops of vegetables, making us increasingly reliant on imports.
Michael Moynihan ‘Pesticides could be banned, (if there was political will). Nature is taking a huge hammering. Unless we change some of our farming habits, we are going to see less bees around’.
This information came from an excellent podcast – Dr Lara Dungan on Newstalk – Science is Everywhere. Episode 8 and I encourage you to listen to it.