Mass Extinction – The Bees Die Out – We Die Out
The Honey Bee is one of nature’s peculiarities but it is one creature which nature itself depends upon.
Without the Honey Bee, there are countless species of plants and fruit bearing trees that would not be pollinated and should the day come where the Honey Bee is no longer available – these plants and trees would for sure die out. As of late there has been a concern of the disappearance of Honey Bees surrounded by the worry that these beautiful natural pollinators will soon die out completely and since 2007 researchers have been dedicated to finding out more about this mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder to see what can be done to prevent it and save not only the Honey Bee but also the trees and flowers which it pollinates.
Bee Facts – Source: American Beekeper Federation
Therefore, the declining numbers of pollinators, particularly bees, are a cause of concern because of the environmental knock-on effects. High declines in adult bee numbers in some colonies have been reported and this decline is known as colony collapse disorder. These declines are higher than normal and can go unnoticed by bee keepers because the bees do not generally die in the nest so the decrease is not immediately obvious.
Bees are endangered
The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there was sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 of them were declining. Some 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.
“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” the studies author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.
Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.
Experts from the center reviewed the status of 316 bee species and then conducted reviews of all available information to determine the status of a further 1,121 species. The center said the species which lacked sufficient data were also presumed to be at risk of extinction.
Among the native species that are severely threatened are the Gulf Coast solitary bee, the macropis cuckoo bee and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is now rarely seen.
Last month, the rusty patched bumble bee was listed by federal authorities as endangered, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such protection.
Bees provide valuable services: the pollination furnished by various insects in the United States, mostly by bees, has been valued at an estimated $3 billion each year.
The center’s Kopec noted that almost 90 percent of wild plants are dependent on insect pollination.
“If we don’t act to save these remarkable creatures, our world will be a less colorful and more lonesome place,” she said.
Is a Solution in sight?
Honestly? No. The global agricultural money machine keeps going – but scientists and governments search for solutions. The solutions proposed for this problem are increasing research, managing farming and spreading awareness. It is important to conserve the bee populations before the problem of decreasing pollinator numbers becomes too great to fix.
The first step in bee conservation would be to accurately determine the cause of death of bees, Stricter guidelines for bee keepers would be developed so that dead bees can be analyzed by researchers to better understand the cause of death. Bee keepers need to be vigilant about reporting colony deaths and sending found bee bodies to appropriate researchers to investigate the cause of death.
Farms make up a lot of land and encouraging farmers to create environments suitable for the bees would have a big impact. The bee decline could also be due to a loss of habitat due to farming. Many other species experience declines when their habitat is lost and, although bees can forage near crop lands, insecticides used by farmers could be killing them. In the United States, the government encourages farmers to restore habitats for endangered species by paying them, which increases the incentive to set up and protect habitats suitable for bees.
Researchers in Florida University and Penn State found that certain pesticides killed bee larvae. This had not been noticed before because the pesticides had only been tested on adult bees and would therefore have had a negative effect on subsequent generations within affected colonies. Insecticides and pesticides used by organic and non-organic farms would be tested thoroughly to make sure they’re safe for bees.
Work also needs to go into supporting natural pollinators, not just farmed bees, by providing suitable environments for them. This can be done by encouraging farmers and gardeners to plant a diverse range of flowering plants to encourage a variety of pollinators and to limit the use of pesticides.
Leaving the areas around crop fields unmanaged could provide suitable nesting sites for bees so they have close access to crops and can help pollinate the crops. The change in climate could be disrupting the synchrony between the flowering plants and the bees. Planting certain types of crops which provide food for the bees at staggered times is important so that they don’t die when a specific type of crop stop flowering. Agriculture is done on a large scale and if bee sustainable measures are in place for farming, this will have a big positive impact on bee populations.
The decline of bees is a wide spread problem which is why it is important to get as much support as possible to help fund, research and conserve pollinators.
Increasing the population of bees, and pollinators in general, globally is a large undertaking. It involves collaboration with researchers and organizations also interested in conserving pollinators, as well as extensive research to identify the causes of death and the solutions to these. Stricter guidelines for bee farmers as well as other farmers would need to be put in place so that agriculture does not have a detrimental effect on the bee populations and so that the health of the bees can be better investigated. The research may not be able to solve the problem immediately or completely, but supporting the bees is crucial and needs to be addressed before the problem is too great to fix.