Take the shopping list and start deleting the items: melon, coffee, chocolate, apples, lemons … Keep the pen in your hand, you will need it: if the bees disappeared, and with them other precious pollinating insects, the list of foods we should do without would become infinite.

Image A bee of the species Halictus ligatus, just out of a pollen "bath". See face to face with bees. | Sam Droege / USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Bees, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators are "responsible" for the good yield of 75% of the crops on which we base our survival. The health of all these pollinators is today put to the test: a quarter of European bees risk extinction, for reasons that are not yet entirely clear, but which probably include the use of pesticides, the scarce availability of food for insects, the spread of native or alien parasites.

In the United States and Europe, a veritable silent massacre is underway that experts have called beehive depopulation syndrome. One of the largest and most wonderful seasonal events in the world, the migration of monarch butterflies - another important pollinator - has reached record lows in number of individuals: in 2018, 86% less than in 2017.

Fruit-bearing hecatomb. It seems an unstoppable trend and it seems that interesting (but sporadic) "shock initiatives" like the one periodically organized by Whole Foods Market, an important chain of supermarkets present in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, are needed to sensitize its customers on this problem removes from its shelves all the vegetables whose cultivation depends on pollinating insects: 52% of the assortment of fruit and vegetable products normally on sale!

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The banality of bees. If you imagine removing from your supermarket also products whose existence depends not only on bees, but on a wider range of pollinators, 70% of the food products we feed ourselves would disappear. An example: for cocoa pollination, definitely not essential (but very good), Forcipomyia, a kind of biting and annoying gnats (for humans), are essential.

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What can we do? The answers (yes they are) are trivial: attention to consumption? Tolerate insects? For what we can and for what is in the hands of each of us … protect the species. It is the theme of World Earth Day 2019.