The bees are disappearing. This is among the top concern that is sending not only the ecology community scrambling, but also prominent leaders of first-world countries.
Some people might think this isn’t worthy of all the effort experts and government are putting into. If it’s sending the heavyweights scrambling, best believe that the problem is of a global level.
Significance in Food Supply
For those that aren’t grasping the importance of bees in our ecosystem, consider these findings by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization conducted in 2005.
The report states that it is estimated that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food in over 146 countries, over three-fourths have been pollinated by bees.
On a global scale 30 percent of the world’s crop-yield is thanks to cross-pollination, and 90 percent of the planet’s wild plants thrive because of this process.
In America alone, bees, along with other pollinators, are attributed for the $15 billion crops that are harvested annually. To put that in perspective, one of every three bites you took from your last meal is courtesy from our buzzing little friends.
Actions Being Taken
You might be thinking, “Man, these guys are indeed important, is there steps being taken?” Fortunately, yes, there are.
Just recently the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed new stringent laws on the use of pesticides, which studies have shown to be one of the major factors linked to bee deaths. Not as heavy as what the European Union did as they’ve issued a moratorium on the use of certain pesticides couple of years, but they’re on the right path.
The issue even drew the White House’s attention as the Obama Administration dipped their hands on the matter by making 7 million acres of federal land friendlier to bees.
Spate of Disappearance
The debate as to what is causing these spates of deaths among bees is linked to a lot of factors including climate change, pesticides, pests, and loss of habitat.
It’s believed that global warming helps the parasites affecting bees to further flourish due to the warm conditions that climate change is causing.
But the prime suspect that scientists are pointing out is pesticide, one that is known as neonicotinoid, which kills insects by targeting their nervous system. Neonicotinoid is a new kind of pesticide that is created to not affect mammals as it isn’t sprayed over fields to kills pests, but rather is coated on seeds before being planted, enabling it to worm its way to the tissues of the seeds and into the plant – and the plant alone.
Pests are another matter, specifically varroa mites, as they aren’t just harming bees themselves but are also a vector for a vast number of pathogens if they happened to penetrate a colony.
Nat Geo explained that these mites hurt the bees by draining blood-like hemolymph from their hosts weakening their immune system. The bee colony is perfect for the pathogen to flourish as bees are in constant contact and the temperature is warm and steamy.
If you feel helpless after reading this, you can help our pollinating friends by planting flowers in your backyard like sage and sunflower. Experts also suggest supporting your local bee-keepers.
We have to understand that this problem will affect all of us if the entire bee population continues its decline. Only through our joint effort, big or small, will we be able to bring the bee population back into its normal number.