Health, Wellness, and My "Multi-Life"

Of honeybees and killer whales …

on July 1, 2013

Is it just me, or are we in the midst of a serious but unacknowledged almond-butter shortage? A quick Google search suggests that I am not alone in my concerns – and that many of us just happen to shop at Trader Joe’s. As you know from my previous posts, I am often very hungry, and nuts and nut butters constitute some of my favorite go-to snacks – so easy, so delicious, so filling! So you can imagine how frustrating and confusing it’s been to encounter blank shelves or rows and rows of peanut butter where the almond butter used to sit at several local grocery stores. At first I attributed it to the Great Nut Butter Recall of 2012. But as winter turned to spring with nary a jar in sight, minor concern shifted towards paranoia. Over the past several years I have been reading about declining honeybee populations and was fairly convinced that worker bees just weren’t able to keep up with the recent demand for all things almond. Luckily, a neighborhood coffee shop just so happened to be holding an event called The Life of Honeybees. Local beekeeper Paul Dangel gave a terrific lecture on the history of human-honeybee relations and brought some of his golden-hued product. During the presentation, Paul revealed a very disturbing statistic: one third of commercial honeybee colonies in the U.S. didn’t survive the winter. One third! The consequences of this are so disturbing that I’m including a link to a recent article about this problem (just click on the image):

Over the weekend I stopped back at Trader Joe’s only to discover almond butter back on the shelves. They had half a shelf of creamy and crunchy raw almond butter. Since I’m mildly allergic to raw nuts, I thought I’d take the opportunity to investigate the almond butter mystery. Sure enough, the person I asked told me that there was a shortage. Stores are only allowed to order a single case at a time, and the jars fly off the shelves as soon as they appear. “Tell me, please, is it the honeybees?” I asked. Interestingly enough, the employee told me that the almond butter shortage was actually due to contamination at a facility that produces nut butters for many many brands. Strangely (although maybe not surprisingly), if you search “almond butter shortage” online, you will find a range of explanations (and tremendous collective angst). And this got me wondering, could honeybee colony collapse this past winter really be responsible for an almond butter shortage right here, right now? Probably not, since almond trees that flowered over the spring won’t be harvested until this fall – so we are either seeing the result of a prior honeybee crisis and/or production contamination like the man at Trader Joe’s told me. But the loss of one third of all commercial honeybee colonies over the winter does herald a shortage in almonds, berries, avocados, and other good things in the coming years. So if you are like me, maybe it’s time to start experimenting with “alternative nut butters” – and think about starting a neighborhood hive!

to be continued (killer whales coming) …


3 responses to “Of honeybees and killer whales …

  1. Angela says:

    Wow! That is interesting!

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