Honeybees together with wild bees are the most important pollinators of the vegetables and fruits we eat. They have thrived in amazing harmony on this planet for 50 million years. Out of 100 crop species that make up 90% of our global food supply, 71 are pollinated by bees.
How would you like to live without apples, almonds, blueberries, cherries, avocados, cucumbers, onions or oranges? I know, I would not like it either.
Bees travel from flower to flower to gather their food. They get all protein they need from floral pollen, and all carbohydrates they need from floral nectar. In this process, they also transfer pollen between same floral species and make pollination happen.
During the last several years, a new phenomenon started to threaten the world’s agriculture:
Honeybee colonies are disappearing at frightening rates!
In 2006, it was recorded the first mass disappearance of honeybee colonies in North America and Europe caused by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is a societal syndrome that occurs when worker bees suddenly abandon their colony and disappear.
It is normal for some bee colonies to die over the course of a year. A tolerable rate of colony loss reported by beekeepers in 2015 was 18.7%. The worrying part is that the rate of bees dying in recent years is significantly higher. According to the US Agricultural Research Service’s annual bee survey, around 40% of US honeybee colonies died between April 2014 and April 2015.
A study published in 2014 from Harvard University shed more light on the mysterious disappearing of honeybees. The researchers monitored 18 bee colonies at three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2013 until April 2013. Four colonies at each location were receiving regularly a treatment with realistic doses of neonicotinoids (the world’s most widely used class of insecticides), while six hives remained untreated. Bees from 6 of the 12 treated colonies were completely wiped out and only 1 colony from the untreated hives was lost as a results of infection by a parasitic fungus called Nosema.
The results from this study not only replicate findings from the previous study, but also reinforce the conclusion that the sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD.— Chensheng et al. (2014)
Many research journals reveal clearly that our current regulations and practices meant to protect the bees that pollinate much of our food are not effective at all.
Another report published in the journal Nature demonstrates that bees are twice as likely to die when exposed to pesticides and they are also less successful in gathering food.
As we continue to progress in the modern world we enter in a vicious environment that is not sustained and where consequences are very much neglected. This doesn’t just reflect how we respect mother nature but also shows our mental ability to operate as a whole. The disappearance of honey bees is another lesson for us to ask “What on Earth Is Going On with Humanity?”.
As we need our food to be clean for us and our kids, so do our pollinators. Dying bees send a desperate message to us that they are not able to survive anymore in our agricultural and urban environments.