Bees are on the Brink of Extinction

Bees are on the Brink of Extinction

Bees are on the Brink of Extinction

Human actions are pushing many species of bees towards extinction.

Closely related to wasps, bees are integral for reproduction of plants. Bees carry out an important task called ‘Pollination’. It is the process by which pollen is transferred from the male part of the plant to the female part. When a bee lands on a flower, bits of pollen stick to it which are then transferred to different flowers as the bee moves from one to another. The pollen is dropped off on new flowers as the bee rubs it off. According to an estimate, the bee population has seen a whopping 87% decline across many species since 1990.

Why are the Bees Dying?

According to popular belief, the most common cause behind the declination of bee population is the widespread use of pesticides. Pollen is not only essential for plant growth but it also used as feed for bees. Research shows that the use of pesticides has brought significant changes to the way they ‘forage’. Pesticides act as a deterrent for bees because the chemicals are harmful to them. It makes them less attentive towards the larvae and causes them to be less social.

A lot of experts consider Climate Change a strong reason for the declining bee population. However, we can’t deny the harmful effects of excessive use of pesticides. Similarly, destruction of natural habitat is another massive reason for this dreadful trend. While a lot of planning has been done to control the emission of greenhouse gas, the implementation is rather poor and ineffective. Consequently, it is predicted that a dangerous ecosystem imbalance will occur if all the bees of the world are wiped out.

Is the Effect Worldwide?

Although they are affected worldwide, the bees populations of North America and Hawaii have affected the most. More than 700 of the 4000 species are inclining towards extinction and are now considered endangered. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 347 of these species play a vital role in pollination. The author of the report, Kelsey Kopec, said,

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming. If we don’t act to save these remarkable creatures, our world will be a less colorful and more lonesome place.”

Among the endangered species, the most notable ones are the Rusty-patched Bumble, the Macropis Cuckoo, and the Sunflower Leafcutting. This is not the first time when they have been endangered. About a century ago, the Black Bees were almost wiped off the face of the Earth by a disease. However, in recent years, they seem to be making a comeback with black bees appearing in different parts of UK. Londonderry, West Sussex, Preston, and Cambridgeshire host a number of them. Norman Walsh of the Dromore Beekeeping Association referred to that by saying,

“Once the imported bees were bred with the native bees, they tended to be a bit aggressive, but in recent times there has been renewed interest in conservation and development and selection of the native dark bees in Ireland.”

The Plan

These efforts were funded by the Co-operative. The cooler and wetter climate of the UK is better suited for bee populations. The plan is to breed more queens of the sub-species as this is a cost-effective solution as compared to importing bees to breed. The population rose by 45% as societies such as Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association (BIBBA) work to assist the insect population. Chris Shearlock, the sustainable development manager for the Co-operative, talked about that in the following words:

“The results of this research show that there are far more colonies of British bees than was thought and we can now move on to support a breeding program which will hopefully increase the number of bees and in turn help reduce the losses experienced in recent years.”

What does the Future Hold?

The severity of the situation can be judged by the fact that for the first time in the history of the US, bees will be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Authorities hope to raise awareness this way as these pollinators are responsible for 90% of the crops worldwide. A world without honeybees would turn into an unpleasant place with little to no flowers.

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