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The Honeybee Crisis
Honeybees and why we should care
Honeybees, well known for their delicious honey have been producing us honey for so many years! Honeybees play a big role in giving us the healthy nutrients we need.
Nowadays many of us don't realize what is going on in the bee world, many of us don't relize how important they are in our environment. Over the years, the population of honeybees have been declining, and are now said to be declining even more rapidly!
Here in the UK and Ireland. the recent long cold freezing winter wasn't any help, honeybee populations in countries like the USA have also been decling.
Yea, a big problem indeed... but why should we care?
A very "touching" e-mail to my dear friend.
Yea, that's right, the honey from honeybees are important to us who like honey and stuff with honey, they're sweet and and a great part of our diet but also the honeybees themselves are important, they play a major role in pollinating our plants like most of bees of course and all our flowering crops, even if they are not made of honey they are also important, and that's where bees come to help them pollinate and reproduce.
By loosing honeybees in our planet, this would create a big impact to our apples strawberries, blueberries, nuts, asparagus, cucumber and brocolli. The loss of honeybees would also affect not just the honeybee farmers but also farmers such as livestock farmers, cows sheep and goats need food, and bees help them by pollinating plants on the field that contain all the good nutrients for these livestock, without honeybees they wouldn't live as good as they would with them.
Of course, there are been debates as to if this would actually happen, but nowadays, some scientist are worried that it could happen.
There are other food that do not need honeybees, or any bee, however, the extinction of honeybees and all other bees would lead to higher food prices, due to many food who need them not being able to pollinate and reproduce, poor livestock due to limited nutrients meaning some of them won't have enough meat or milk for humans, and poor livestock with less nutrients are prone to deseases and viruses that could end their life, or prevent them from being sold for human consumption.
According to the BBC "the National Audit Office collated research working out the value of honeybees to the UK economy.
The value of the bees' services were estimated at £200m a year. The retail value of what they pollinate was valued closer to £1bn." (Source:BBC News)
And this is in the UK alone, the US Department of Agriculture say that honeybees "pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat." (Source:mnn.com)
So what is causing all of this? What can we do to help honeybees?
There are so many disputes and arguments agreements and disagreements over what is causing them to decline, here are a few:-
Climate change - It is said that persistent wind and rain that we are having here in the UK for example to long freezing cold winters are preventing honeybees from doing their business, decreasing the amount of honey they produce.
Deseases- Deseases such as AFB (American Foulbrood) can fungal deseases such as chalkbrood, viral deseases such as Cripaviridae and Acute bee paralysis (APV or ABPV) are spreading from farm to farm, hive to hive, that can lead to the loss of so many honeybees.
Pests and parasites- Parasites such as the Varroa mite are an example, they feed on the bodily fluids of adult, pupal and larval bees.
The picture below (Source:wikimedia) shows a Varroa mite in red feeding on a larvae of a honeybee.
Pests such as wax moths and small hive beetles affect beehives and the bees, the wax moths feed on the on the wax which is used by the bees to build their honeycb. The Small hive beetles, originally from Sub-saharan Africa have been found in the US by living in beehives they cause damage to comb, stored honey and pollen, and can lead to honeybees having no choice but to leave their hive.
There are now bee-friendly chemicals and other prevention methods that are being used by beekepers to try and control these problems
Out of all these problems, it is said that types of pesticides and insecticides are killing honeybees, pesticides are not meant to kill honeybees, but are meant to kill the pests and insects that harm the crops, the chemicals used in pesticides are not just killing off these insects that damage crops but those who help the crops pollinate and reproduce, such as honeybees. An example of a well known insecticide is Neonicotinoid which is responsible for many bee deaths, this insecticide is very commonly used worldwide and is also very toxic to animals. Bacill Thuringiensis is another type of pesticide which provokes the immune system of bees adding to things like confusion as it prevents memory formation, it is said that Bacill Thuringiensis can also be harmful to humans.
These causes are beleived to be the cause of what beehive keepers call Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is when beehives that were perfectly healthy are being left abandoned. Many of these bees fail to return due to confusion, death and damages to their hives and their environment.
So.....what can we do about it?
Here are a few ideas!
Spread the word! People power! ...
By voicing out our concerns joining or supporting organizations that want to protect bees filling out petitions to governments unions and big organizations we show that we are more than just a one man army trying to save the honeybees. Farmers who buy from the pesticides are just doing their job trying to make a living, but it is still important they know what the toxic chemicals they buy could be doing to the environment and also their business, by choosing other alternatives such as organic farming (where pesticides are not used), buying products that have been properly tested. Major companies that sell these products need to be pressured to carry out tests on their products to make them safer for honeybees. Buying more organic produce rather than non-organic produce which have been grown with pesticides
As for the weather...we can't stop it snowing in Paris tomorrow and we can't stop it from raining in Ontario, as we cannot control the weather, although we cannot control the weather or climate change, we can research better alternatives to what we as humans use that adds up to climate change.
Stricter rules on the movement of farmed honeybees could mean the prevention of diseases pests and parasites moving from one hive to another, buying bees from an infected farm increases the death of honeybees by spreading the disease Moving foreign bees from one country to another could bring in parasites and other foreign bee killers which leads to uncontrollable deaths of bee populations who these diseases pests and parasites are not known to.
Planting flowers in your garden helps feed the bees, pollinate your flowers and helps them live, by planting flowers you are helping the bee population.
We all know that bees sting, and they can be annoying to some of us humans, but they are an important part of our natural environment, and we deserve them in our lives.
It is not only honeybees that are declining in numbers, but also bumble bees and carpenter bees, like honeybees they are suffering from similar causes of extinction, and like honeybees they play a big part in our natural world, and like us, they only once, and once they are gone, they're gone. So let's do our bit.