For the past few years, concern has increased over the apparent lack of bees. One species has officially been placed on the endangered creature list and scientists are searching for ways to stop them from disappearing. While researchers disagree at the rate of the bee population decreasing, many agree that it is occurring and something we should watch. Educate yourself on the facts about the importance of honey bees and what you can do to help!
Why are bees important?
The biggest reason bees are so important is their assistance with pollination. While bees are not the sole pollinators for the Earth’s plant life, they’re the largest players. Bees pollinate most plants and help cultivate food. Agriculture heavily depends on bees to successfully pollinate crops. The honey industry is also thriving and must continue to do so, though captive bees are not as affected by the decline in population as wild bees. Without bees, we’d have to find other ways to pollinate crops, either by hand or using machines, which would be incredibly difficult. Since it is currently nearly impossible to simulate the amount of work bees do when it comes to pollination, we’d likely face a huge food shortage if bees were to fully disappear.
Bees also contribute to biodiversity, which is incredibly important to the ecological health of the planet. If a single species declines significantly in population or becomes extinct, it severely impacts that environment. Since bees play such a large role throughout the world, it’s even more important that we pay attention to their numbers.
Why are they disappearing?
There has been a lot of conjecture on why bees are vanishing in countries across the globe. One of the first theories was that the invasive species of Africanized honey bee was killing off wild honeybees in the United States and Europe, but not performing the same amount of pollinating native bees did. Since Africanized honey bees have a tendency to act aggressively, many people want to kill them, which could lead to killing native bees that look similar to the Africanized honey bees.
Now, scientists have determined that the main cause is colony collapse disorder (CCD), though it’s still unclear exactly what causes this issue. Most likely, it’s a combination of various factors, but mainly due to the use of pesticides and herbicides. Even though many of these chemicals are illegal, a lot are still used and have a negative impact on the bee population.
What can we do?
One of the best ways to combat bees disappearing is through growing plants native to your area, along with a small garden. Since bees are being harmed by pesticides and herbicides, not using these on your plants will attract the bees and provide them with a food source, so their colony can thrive.