By Caroline Markham

 

Chances are you rolled out of bed this morning, and the first thing that you did was start up a pot of coffee. Americans consume roughly 400 million cups of coffee–per day. So how do we get this beloved beverage? A lot of it points back to the bees and suitable farming land. NPR (*1) states that bees are responsible for 20-25% of coffee production, and even increase the quality of the beans. While most people think of bees as an annoying insect that we swat at when they get too close, these little guys are crucial to a variety of things that we eat and drink every single day. According to a BBC article (*2), they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Sadly, bee species are declining at an alarming rate, and climate change is looking like it is the main culprit of this.

Climate change is not only affecting pollinators such as bees, but it’s also affecting the land where coffee can grow. Regions like Latin America are particularly impacted, as they grow 80% of the world’s arabica coffee (the most popular type of coffee). The loss of bee species is supposed to hit regions like Latin America, where the temperatures are expected to cool down, and bees may not be able to move to higher ground. Not only does this affect us as coffee-loving consumers, but it is going to threaten millions of people around the world who depend on coffee cultivation for income.

Eusebio picking coffee in San Antonio community, Colibri Cloudforest, Peru

Due to climate change, some regions that are not suitable for coffee farmlands might actually be suitable within the next couple of years such as Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Costa Rica. These regions have their own native species of bees, so while this isn’t a solution, it looks like a little bit of hope stored in our future. Scientists are warning people to not get too hopeful over this prediction though, saying we will still lose more than we will gain.

While the future looks daunting, there are tons of organizations and scientists around the world fighting for bees, including us over here at Rainforest Partnership. We partnered with the community of San Antonio in the Colibri Cloudforest region and started up our own beekeeping project. We wanted to help the community further develop its beekeeping business by increasing the bee population in the area. This entire project ties into helping preserve the Amazon Rainforest. Many plant and animal species in the forest would not survive without the bees, who play an important role in pollination. While the goal is to help the forest, we are trying to help the communities around the forest thrive as well. Through this beekeeping project, the San Antonio community can generate an income based on products such as beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly. Not only does this help out the community and the bees, but it also helps contribute to maintaining the biodiversity of the region as well as helping local farmers (such as coffee farmers) keep healthy crops.  

Sources:

RELATED:  Oslo Climate and Forest Conference Today

(1) https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/11/550169720/coffee-bees-and-climate-change-are-linked-in-ways-you-may-not-have-expected

(2) http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140502-what-if-bees-went-extinct

Featured image https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/612323/Bees-Make-Coffee