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The Importance of Bees – According to Google

I played around a bit with Google’s ngrams these days and up came some pretty interesting curves.

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The graph shows the how often the words have been found in the books contained in Google’s sample.

As you can see, use of the words “insects”, “bees” and “beetles” shows a distinct downward trend starting somewhen in the 1950s, whereas use of the word “pesticides” increases from the 1960s. “Pollination” begins to be an issue at the beginning of the 20th century.

I also find it interesting (though not surprising) that bees consistently get much more attention than beetles, despite the latter being the much larger group.

If you want to look up the literary treasures in Google’s digital vaults, here is original ngram.

In the German literature, there also is a decline in “Bienen” and “Insekten” from the 1950s. Pollination (“Bestäubung”) however is much more of an issue from the mid 19th-century and “Pflanzenschutz” (which is a bit more general a term than “pesticides”) appears throughout the 20th century.

[Click graphic to enlarge]

These data clearly reflect a shift in interest over the past 50 years. They do not, however, but I think that is clear, prove any causal relationship.