Save The Bees! Einstein supposedly said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man. ” According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination” (“NBC”). Additionally, “bees pollinate over ninety five flowering crops.
Among these crops are: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. Lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons” (“NBC”). We have to save the bees. Without them our agriculture will wither. Pesticides, predominately in colony collapse disorder, are the reason bees are dying. In order to rescue the honeybees from extinction it is important to understand what honeybees do, how they are dying out and how we can help them.
Understanding the function of the honeybee is important to their survival, as well as our own. Bees live in groups and make colonies. Each hive has a queen bee, workers and drones. The queen and worker bees are both female while the drones are all males, but the queen is the only bee who reproduces. The workers clean the hive, feed the offspring, pollinate and make honey (“PestWorld”). Pollination is not only important for humans but also for bees. Bees use their sense of smells to collect pollen and bring it back to the hive.
Sometimes a portion of the pollen is dropped causing cross pollination (“PestWorld”). They pollinate many types of plants, repeatedly visit the same plant, and recruit other honeybees to visit, too (“NBC”). In October 2006, some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. While colony losses are not unexpected, especially over the winter, this magnitude of losses was unusually high (“ARS”). The problem of CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder, started in France in the 1960’s and migrated to the US (“Accuweather”).
Hives affected by CCD present no or low numbers of bees, with the queen alive and immature bees present. Agriculturists believe of the main causes of CCD is the presence of parasites and pathogens and a pesticide called Neonicotinoid. The extensive use of Neonticotinoid around beehives is the cause of their disapearence. Neonicotinoid residues are found in pollen and nectar consumed by pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The residues can reach lethal concentrations in some situations (“Xerces”).
“Are Neonicotinoids killing bees? goes on to say that one single application can stay in the soil from a few months up to a year, preventing bees from ever returning (“Xerces”). Combined with parasites and pathogens, this lowers the bees’ immune system allowing them to be open to disease. CCD hives are found with fungi and parasites that inject a virus, killing the hive (“USDA, ERS”). Another cause could be stress, too constant breeding, poor nutrition, overcrowding, limited water access and pesticides. All of these things affect a bee’s longevity, memory, navigation & forging ability (“USDA, ERS”).
Surprisingly, there are many agriculturists that do not support the growth of the honeybee population. Besides bees there are also butterflies, bats and birds that pollinate plants, flowers and fruits (“Accuweather”). In fact, seventy percent of our food comes from sources other than bees (“Accuweather”). Without bees, plants that depend on pollination and cross pollination would slowly die out, chocolate, almonds, apples, coffee & 40 various kinds of fruits & vegetables wouldn’t exist. Humans would also be stuck eating wind pollinated crops such as wheat and corn.
Bees also pollinate alfalfa, which is eaten by cows, without bees we would have no meat. We would also lose the almost 15 billion dollar industry in the USA alone of honey. Pulitzer Prizewinning insect biologist E. O. Wilson of Harvard said the honeybee is nature’s “workhorse — and we took it for granted” (“NBC”). The honeybees are an important part of having a healthy US agriculture economy (“ABF”). With bees we have healthier hives and colonies, more fruits and vegetables, more flowers and gardens and meat.
You can help by building a bee friendly garden that doesn’t use pesticides, keeping yourself informed about the bee population, sponsoring a hive, becoming a local beekeeper or supporting one, signing petitions to stop pesticide use and spreading the word about the plight of the honeybee (“HoneyBeeConservation/HelpSaveHoneyBees”). By supporting the bees, you are supporting a future rich of fruits and vegetables, honey and meat, even coffee and teas (“Accuweather”). Whether Einstein said it or not, bees are an important part of our ecosystem. Without them we would not survive.