The humble bee has often been regarded as a symbol of hard work and dedication. From a young age, we are taught about their importance in pollination and helping with the proliferation of plants. Of course, they also provide us with honey. Evidence shows that humans have actively kept bees since approximately 8000 B.C. But what has changed?
These past few decades have not been good for bees. More and more reports worldwide show that bumblebee populations have been in sharp decline. In 2017, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee was declared endangered, marking the first time a bumblebee entered into high-risk conservation status.
It is high time to acknowledge the dangers of bee disappearance. The ramifications of their decline could not only affect us from a nutritional and ecological standpoint but economically as well.
Pesticides And Colony Collapse Disorder
A problem beekeepers faced notably in the mid-2000s was Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. It usually involves the disappearance of the vast majority of a hive’s workforce, leaving behind a queen and plenty of food sources.
While incidents of CCD have declined in the past five or six years, the problem is still one faced by many beekeepers. When looking into probable causes of CCD, common causes appeared to be the usage of certain pesticides, as well as stronger forms of Varroa destructor, a parasite that targets bees.
CCD bodes badly for world food supplies. Bees play an essential role in fertilizing around 90 percent of the world’s major crops. Many governments and organizations like the UN have declared the imminent risk posed by widespread insecticide usage. Possible outcomes involve mass food shortages and unbalanced ecologies.
Economics Of Bees
In 2014, the Obama Administration released a fact sheet detailing the economic risks of declining bee populations. It states that pollinating insects contribute 24 billion dollars to the United States economy alone, with honey bees comprising 15 billion dollars of that amount. Native bees to the United States also contributed 9 billion dollars to the economy, a significant amount.
In line with this, declining populations put certain crops at risk of disappearance. Plants such as almonds are pollinated exclusively by honeybees, meaning that the loss of bees would result in a loss of almonds as well as other plants that rely on bee pollination. The decline would also obviously affect the apiary industry, whose whole economy depends upon the success of bees.
A Hope for Hives
We should question ourselves: what can we do now? An important step we can take is to contact your local representatives and discuss with them your concerns regarding bee populations. We must support government programs that support bee conservation and awareness. It would also be helpful to donate to organizations and programs that work to help bees.
Supporting local organic bee farms is also a good small step to take. More money put into smaller farms who do not use bee-harming pesticides can help reduce the instances of Colony Collapse Disorder. Smaller farms also help support your local economy and reduce your carbon footprint.
Research also shows that it would be better to take steps to support wild bee populations as well. For people in the suburbs, it helps not to have flat, short lawns, as these are not conducive to native bee populations. A more significant step you can take is to not live in the suburbs at all, as suburban areas tend to rid themselves of native plants and natural growth in favor of uniformity.
Bees Save the World
Remember the next time you’re pouring honey into your tea, so much of what we eat depends on a very important insect. Saving bees won’t just save your honey, but will also protect our entire way of living. Don’t take it for granted, and take action. You’ll thank yourself later.