How the decline of bees is affecting us
Our Bee population is declining at an alarming rate!
Here's what you need to know.
The decline of the bee population hit alarming rates for the first time in the late-1990s and peaked in the 2000s. Despite the plateau in losses in the 2010s, the NRDC reports the summer of 2015 saw the first widespread losses n the Summer months higher than those seen during the Winter. Most instances of population declines occur over the cooler months of the year, allowing beekeepers the chance to rebuild their colonies over the course of the warmer months when bees usually thrive.
How does the bee help humanity?
The first thing to know about the bee is wild species and those managed by commercial beekeepers are responsible for pollinating around 70 of the most important 100 crops in the world. The BBC reports the commercial beekeepers are responsible for the cultivation of around $30 billion in crops in the U.S. alone.
There is little doubt the bee population is of vital importance to the future of the human race, which would see major dietary changes if the bee were to become extinct or rare. The food production of the state of California is one of the most important aspects of the work of bees to pollinate crops and produce the foods we rely on for survival.
An entire industry has grown up around the use of commercially nurtured colonies of the bee which are transported around the U.S. to pollinate various crops throughout the year. The NRDC reports these colonies saw a 42 percent loss rate over the course of 2015, far above the safe threshold of just over 18 percent seen as sustainable. If the situation is not reversed soon the decline will become irreversible and leave the human race with little chance of developing a plan for bringing these important insects back to the forefront of food production.
Crops will not survive
A map of the most important crop-producing areas in the U.S. published by Phys shows the size of the problem facing the nation in terms of bee colonies. Wild bees play as important a role in the pollination of crops like those in commercially-raised hives. The map shows the majority of the most important crop production regions in the U.S., such as California and the Midwest are seeing critical losses of the wild bee.
The state of California gave the world a small insight into how the development of crips will be affected by critical colony decline issues in the Summer of 2018. The huge losses seen in commercially-managed colonies led to a scramble to combine hives to prove successful in completing the pollination of the almond crops of the state. The scramble allowed the minimum of pollination to occur and shows this scramble to bring the bee to California each year may become the new reality over the next few decades.
The critical loss of the bee population will see some of the best-loved food products eaten in the developed world become more difficult to source. For example, the community of almond farmers in California has been campaigning for more bee protections for decades as they believe their crop will die out without wild bee pollination taking place.
Although it is rarely grown in the U.S., coffee is another crop inherently reliant on the work of the bee as a pollinator and source of food. The flower of the coffee plant is often only available for pollination between three and four days per year, meaning the wild bee plays a pivotal role in maintaining current levels of production of the plant. Although the coffee beans our society have come to love and depend upon will remain available, society will see coffee become a luxury item only available at great expense to the wealthiest in communities around the world.
Living a healthy lifestyle would become more difficult
As the 21st-century has moved forward, many within society have grown more concerned about their diet and lifestyle choices. Living a healthy, active lifestyle means eating a diet filled with healthy fruits and vegetables mostly pollinated by the bee population in the developed and developing worlds.
If the bee population continues to decline at the rates we are seeing in the last few years, the number of fruits and vegetables available in grocery stores is expected to be halved. Around 87 crops produced around the world commonly used commercial pollinators which would be limited in their growth in the coming years. Crops, including cocoa, would be lost or limited in their scope meaning a range of products would be lost from our diet, including chocolate and other luxury items.
Can the situation be reversed?
The effect of a declining bee population is easy to identify for most farming communities and those with an interest in environmental factors. Many people wrongly attribute a famous saying about the loss of the bee population leading to the extinction of the human race. Although this is not the case, it is undoubtedly a problem which would lead to a huge shift in the food eaten and crops planted across the world. The loss of bee colonies around the world is a sign of wider issues in the environment and could be seen as a sign of the fact humans are causing huge changes to the future of the planet Earth.
The plight of the global bee population has become a major issue for many government agencies who are looking into the reasons for the loss of so many colonies. Steps have been taken to limit the use of the widespread neonicotinoid insecticides which have been linked to the declining bee colonies around the world. The European Union issued a two-year ban on the use of these insecticides as fears grew about the potential for them to wipe out entire bee colonies.
In the U.S., a similar ban on neonicotinoid insecticides which are used on 95 percent of crops grown and brought about issues including a legal battle over their use. The U.S. federal agencies were also tasked with assisting with the development of various programs including the creation of bee-friendly outdoor spaces to encourage the return of the bee. A global strategy for improving the state of the bee population is being sought and needs to address the loss of more than 200 acres of pastures tilled for corn in the U.S. each year.