TED Tuesday features theory why bees are disappearing

Student’s shared pizza and discussed the bee decline at interactive TED video showing.

Yao Yang and Marla Spivek  check a bee colony at a HAFA farm. (Flickr/Media Mike Hazard/CC BY 2.0 license)

Yao Yang and Marla Spivek check a bee colony at a HAFA farm. (Flickr/Media Mike Hazard/CC BY 2.0 license)

Each week Associated Student Government President Lucy Hendrix helps Student Development host TED Tuesdays, where students watch informative TED Talks videos. TED Tuesdays are held in Student Services Center, Room 211, at 12:15 p.m. Attendees get a free lunch to watch and discuss the topic of the week.

TED is a nonprofit organization that helps share “ideas worth spreading” through 18-minute or less lectures. This world-wide community covers any topic from art, science or world issues. Experts speak in front of an auditorium, which is filmed and then published to TED’s website and YouTube channel.

This past Tuesday students gathered for the TED Talk “Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing.” In the video, Spivak spoke about how crucial these insects are to our growing society, what’s harming them, and how everyone can do their part to save them and save ourselves in return.

“We can’t afford to lose bees, so what’s going on?” Spivak said. “Bees are dying of multiple and interacting causes.”

More than one-third of the world’s crop production is dependent on bee pollination. They don’t do this intentionally though. They need nutrition, so they go out in search for nectar. Without honey bees the world’s human population would struggle to get its own nutrition.

"Now this society has no central authority. Nobody's in charge. So how they come to collective decisions, and how they allocate their tasks and divide their labor, how they communicate where the flowers are, all of their collective social behaviors are mindblowing," Marla Spivak said. (Pixabay)

“Now this society has no central authority. Nobody’s in charge. So how they come to collective decisions, and how they allocate their tasks and divide their labor, how they communicate where the flowers are, all of their collective social behaviors are mindblowing,” Marla Spivak said. (Pixabay)

“That’s the thing, right?” Hendrix said. “It’s not just honey it’s so much of our other food.”

Our flowerless landscape and dysfunctional food system is largely to blame. After World War II, the U.S. aimed its farming practices towards large crop monocultures. Low crop diversity and less flowering plants, which are essential to the bees survival, have created what Spivak calls “agricultural food deserts.”

In addition, use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides have been poisoning the bee population. Neonicotinoid insecticides that move through the crop taint the plant nectar. When consumed, bees can get disorientated and lose their way home. Ones with parasites or viruses have an even harder time when dealing with both.

After the video was over, students gathered around to go over the bee problem and other ways society has affected the environment. Everyone gave input. Some provided stories, while others shared reactions.

“This video made me feel a little bit guilty,” said student Jacob Nickolson.

Feedback to the video varied, but Spivak encouraged anyone watching the seminar to do their part to help. Planting more bee-friendly flowers around communities and diversifying farms could be the solution to saving these insects the human population is so dependent on.

“Next week will be our last TED talk,” Hendrix said. “I was looking for ones to pull for next week, and I think I found a really fun one.”

TED Tuesdays have been presented by Student Development since the fall semester of 2013. This semester’s final TED Tuesday is the coming week, but students will be able to find a schedule next fall semester on The L-Lab Calendar at Saddleback’s Student Life Portal.

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