Bee Population – What’s the Situation?

Bee on Finger © Sarah Schaffer (my mother), I had permission to use.

A rapid declination in the world’s population of bees began in the late 1990’s. In the United States, there was a loss of 40% of commercial honeybees since 2006. Wild bee’s (for example, Mason bees) numbers also in decline, and they are also vital t o many ecosystems and to human food production because they are pollinators. Humans rely on bee (and other pollinators) pollination for one third of the food we eat. So we must put more effort into ensuring the stability of their worldwide population; but first, we must know what are the causes for their decline.

There are three major causes for the worldwide loss of bees: climate change, parasites and diseases, and industrial agriculture.                                                                                                        

Climate change and the urbanization of wild lands is causing flowering plants to decrease in numbers. 40 years of global warming has resulted in 60% flower decline in alpine meadows. The bees rely on the flowers for their food, and due to the flower’s decline, bees are diversifying the plants that they get food from. This results in the transmission of diseases and parasites that bees have not yet adapted a defense for.

Industrial agriculture uses lots of pesticides, often in the form of neonicotinoids. The central nervous system of insects are attacked by these neonicotinoids that have been set in place to protect the plants from harmful insects.  

The invasive varroa mite is a pest of honey bees and has been increasing in population size. This is another contributing factor to the decrease in the bee population.

Now that we know why this catastrophe is happening, is there anything us humans can do to reverse it?

Experts believe that the most urgent thing that our society must change is chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. This is the biggest cause of bee population loss because of its contamination to the environment. We must switch to ecological farming (also known as organic farming). This will ensure the protection of our climate and ecosystem health because it takes much less of a toll on our soil and water. Ecological farming also promotes biodiversity which is a vital factor in the health of bee populations.

I believe that much of our effort into ensuring a brighter future for the earth should be put towards protecting global bee populations. My mom has taught me many lessons about their great importance, and she dedicates time to taking care of local hives and even creating a small hive of Mason Bees in our backyard. Her passion and knowledge for bees has rubbed off on me, and inspired me to write this blog to spread the knowledge about the current situation that the bees are in, and the urgent changes that must take place.

    Bee Hive © Sarah Schaffer (my mother), I had permission to use.

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