Why losing the bees is worse than you thought

 

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The picture above is a photo of a little honey bee (hard at work to say in the least) I took over the summer. I hadn’t seen many bees this summer, or the last couple now that I think about it. I think most people have heard about how our bees have been at risk, but the situation is more severe than what meets the eye. There is so much more to bees, than what people realize, as they consider it as a single disconnected insect from the rest of the world. That’s not that case, bees are actually a huge benefit to both us and ecosystems due to their ecosystem services; mainly their pollination capabilities of course. Bees are crucial for a big portion of our food production, and not to mention maintaining plant diversity.

Wild bees are responsible for the pollination of a lot of many wild flowers, and if they continue to decline in numbers, so will these plants accordingly. In fact, around 90% of wild plants in general rely on pollinators, such as bees, for fertilization. Many wild flowers and plants would be a severe risk of endangerment, and likely extinction, if we are to lose such a critical species. Therefore, their extinction will cause a severe shift and overall decline in the diversity of plant species. Wild bee colonies also pollinate roughly one third of our crops, some crops we grow are actually almost entirely dependent on wild bee colonies; blueberries, cranberries and apples are to name a few. Without them, we would have to manually pollinate crops, which is not only labour intensive but incredibly expensive, and in the end could be forced to eliminate certain foods from our diet as a result of this.

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Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate, all over the world, not just here in Canada. Their loss would cause a severe trophic cascade. Various literature as been done on the bee decline, however no one is entirely sure what’s causing it, but there has been various suggestions. These consist of habitat loss/destruction/ fragmentation and pesticides (particularly neonicotinoids) and an overall sum of these things (a basically we’re not sure answer) classified as colony collapse disorder (CCD). As we continue to clear and develop the land around us, we tend to forget about the little guys. We need to maintain and preserve more green space for these critters if we still want them to around (and yes this also means you need to stop batting their hives out of your garage). Neonics (as I’ll refer to them as), is a type of insecticide that has been shown to be particularly detrimental to bees. This insecticide, once applied to crops at the seed stage, actually remains with the plant as it grows, reaching and essentially contaminating the nectar and pollen that the bees then obtain. A reduction in the use of this insecticide has been made, but it’s still not entirely banned, and still continues to poses a risk to bees alongside the use of other pesticides.

It’s important that we are all aware of what is happening with the bees, and why they’re a crucial component of many ecosystems (and not to mention) crucial for us, and what’s a risk if we lose them for good.

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— Thank a bee today

References:

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/bees.pdf

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2009/04/if-the-bees-disappear-well-all-be-stung/

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/declining_bee_populations_pose_a_threat_to_global_agriculture/2645/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zg4dwmn (second photo)

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