A Science magazine last month had an article that talked about the world wide decline of the honey bee. The article went on to talk about how the French were tagging bees with micro processors to help study bees. It was an interesting article. Consider that 75 percent of the food the humans consume is directly related to bees and other pollinators... how concerned should we be?
I have a bee habitat... because I like to study them. but in all the time I have been studying these bees I have only seen two traditional bumblebees. I have seen a handful of the black carpenter bees and a lot of honey bees... Even the smaller native bees have been down in numbers. Part of that is attributed to a decrease in native plants... but the bumblebees seem to be dying off from disease.
Anytime a species is greatly reduced or eliminated there is great reason to be concerned. The ecosystem is a little less balanced than it was before its decline. And whatever is impacting it is probably impacting other things. And a pollinator of the food supply is very important. Not only to our food supply but to the animals' food supply also. It will eventually have some kind of domino effect.
In my local area, I think it's mostly pesticide use and too many monocultures. In the country, it's all corn and soybeans as far as you can see, and in the towns, it's all lawns, lawns, lawns with maybe a blue spruce or Norway maple here and there. Lately there's been a bit of a craze for Russian sage and catmint in this area because they're so drought-resistant, which probably helps a bit (I know the bees loooove my catmint), but it's not enough to make a real difference.
I think we should be very concerned about the decline of bees. As things stand, the human race pretty much relies on them for food crops in terms of pollination, but also, as the worlds population is growing so is our demand for even more food. We need them.
It is even worse then that. Food that we eat that is not directly attributed to pollination is going to be affected. Beef, etc relay on pollinated crops such as alfalfa. Without pollinators I think we would starve to death.
That is true... farmers used to think a bee is just a bee... but imported bumblebees caused a huge outbreak of disease that has decimated native bumblebees to the point of near extinction. I think the structure of how we Americans farm.. has an impact as well. The decline now is... world wide.
I did not realise it was a problem with methodology, the story I remember was of some sort of fungus or micro organism that was wiping them out, but I have seen nothing indicating it was caused by farming methods. Interesting.
when farm land takes over natural landscaping... the native plants die off or are removed. Many native bees have evolved along with the plants. Without the native plants they can not adapt fast enough to survive. When we as humans decided we want to plant 20 acres of tomatoes it impacts the native bees. Farming also impacts survival of the fittest in a sense.. so weaker strains of bees are now affected by molds and bacteria. Also the introduction of newer disease into populations that have no immunity causes a die off in both the native species and the imported species. Add to that the freaky weather that is at least being experienced in the United States and even more disparate situations develop for bees.
I think with genetically re engineered plants the pesticide works on insects that eat the plant. I can only imagine what it does to us. The problem with crops like corn and soybeans is that they do not require specific pollination. Wild bee populations evolved with native plants and as such they have specific plant requirements. they can not adapt quickly and they die off. There is a very fragile balance that should be maintained within all ecosystems. As we farm more land... right or wrong... we disturb the natural ecosystems. Without native bees and other hymenoptera, such as wasps and ants, plant predators and pests increase and the crop is effected or then sprayed with toxins that kill off the pollinating bees. I know in my own garden this year, crop production was down at least 25% Part of that decline can be attributed to the weather. Part of the decline may also be attributed to an increased flowering plant selection nearby.