In this episode we travel to a world without bees. And not just honey bees, all bees.
You’ve probably heard a lot of doom and gloom predictions about what might happen if honey bees went extinct. Mass famine! The end of coffee! World economic collapse! But is that all true? (Probably not.) And how likely is a honeybee extinction anyway? (Extremely unlikely.) Plus, what about all the other bees in the world? We ponder these questions and more in this episode.
To walk us through what might happen to agriculture if bees went away, I talked to Marcelo A. Aizen, a researcher who studies plant pollinator interactions. His research suggests that the loss of honeybees might not be as dire as everybody claims. And to talk about the more neglected bees out there, I called up Elaine Evans, a professor at the University of MInnesota’s Bee Lab, and Paige Embry, the author of the forthcoming book Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them.
Plus, a little bonus “what if” at the end, featuring cartoonist Dean Yeagle, the man who drew the original Honey Nut Cheerios bee.
- How much does agriculture depend on pollinators? Lessons from long-term trends in crop production (PDF)
- How to befriend bumblebees
- What if bees went extinct?
- Why bees are disappearing
- Citizen Science: Bumble Bee Surveys
- Has Anybody Seen the Franklin’s Bumblebee?
- Franklin’s Bumblebee Still Elusive
- The Old Man and the Bee
- Wallace’s Giant Bee
- Honey Nut Cheerios Mascot Goes Missing as Brand Addresses Declining Bee Populations
Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The future voice this episode was provided by Mike Rugnetta. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at email@example.com. I love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.
And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to www.flashforwardpod.com/support for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.
That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.
Flash Forward is a critically acclaimed podcast about the future.
In each episode, host Rose Eveleth takes on a possible (or not so possible) future scenario — everything from the existence of artificial wombs, to what would happen if space pirates dragged a second moon to Earth. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a black market for fecal transplants? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) By combining audio drama and deep reporting, Flash Forward gives listeners an original and unique window into the future, how likely different scenarios might be, and how to prepare for what might come.