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What Happened to the Bees?

Updated on August 26, 2011
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The Bees are Missing....

There have been many reports in the news lately about a decline in the number of bees. This is very worrying because bees are responsible for pollinating many of our crops and this could subsequently result in diminishing harvests over the years.

It's estimated that bees pollinate about a third of the crops in North America. Mostly fruits are affected e.g., strawberries, cherries, apples, and peaches. Nuts like almonds are affected too.

Not only are these kinds of crops at risk, but quantities of honey will be reduced and of course there will be less of the products that are related to this like Royal Jelly.

Where did they go?

There are several reasons why bee populations are diminishing, some of them are fairly speculative and others very reasonable.

Some possible explanations are listed below:

  • mites and parasites
  • pesticides
  • genetically modified crops

Mites

One of the most dangerous types of mites for bees to encounter is the varroa mite. This is a bloodsucking parasite that can cause deformation of the bee, including the wings resulting in them being unable to fly. This type of mite can also carry diseases, in the same way that the mosquito carried disease to humans, and is especially effective in transmitting viruses. If a bee colony is infested with this type of mite, and does not receive any treatment, then all the bees can be killed off within a few months.

There's also another kind of mite, called the tracheal mite, that blocks the breathing tubes of the bee and leads to slow suffocation.

Solution

One way of reducing the potential for infection in managed bee colonies is to increase the amount of air circulating inside.

Pesticides

Pesticides, specifically insecticides, have been used for many years to help to control insect invaders of crops. Because these pesticides also affect bees, then their misuse can have a devastating effect.

Solution

Luckily farmers are generally much more educated in the use of insecticides these daysand will avoid the flowering period when they spray.

Genetically modified crops

Crops that are genetically modified may also produce pollen that is genetically modified. This is a design feature added to stop the crops producing viable seeds. Because of the differences in the nutritional composition of this pollen, bees may not be able to properly use it as a food source and also may not be able to survive the winter.

Solution

The only solution here is more discretion in the use of genetically modified crops. This can be best achieved by consumers themselves campaigning for foods without certain genetic modification.

What can you do?

If you feel like rolling up your sleeves, literally, and saving the bees you could start your own small colony in the backyard. This would have the added benefit of pollinating your fruits and veggies. Keeping your own bees would help to make the local bee gene pool stronger by bringing in some healthy bees.

Another option is to write to your local Government representative requesting that more support be given to bee research.

We sometimes think that our efforts won't make much difference, but if everyone pulls together we can ensure that our children, and our children's children, have enough to eat in the future.

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    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      this could explain why I haven't been stung this year!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      So it would seem that in our push to produce more honey, we may have endangered an entire species by mishandling our bee colonies - by overcrowding the colonies, and not looking after the bees adequately.

    • TheEpicJourney profile image

      TheEpicJourney 6 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

      Voted up for a very important and very overlooked topic! Like the posters and yourself have said, we need them!!

    • catsimmons profile image
      Author

      Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Lets hope we can create a buzzzzzzzzz :-)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I get very worried about the decline in the bees population and I agree with Flora, I don't understand why this doesn't get higher profile.

      Thank you for the information and highlighting this problem.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the information! This is a great useful hub. with this, may we people take action and help the bees against these varroa mites. Bees are really a great help in the pollination of beautiful flowers and trees, and the world will not be the same with out them. voted up!

    • catsimmons profile image
      Author

      Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Thanks Flora..you're right, this should be higher profile!

      Love the link Larry, what a great idea to put beehives on city roofs..

      Duddy, I didn't include the role of EMFs because it's fairly controversial and I wasn't sure there was evidence to support it. I'd be interested in your professional opinion on my hub about that includes some speculation on the potential effects of EMFs on the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis in children...

      https://hubpages.com/family/An-Increasing-Trend-to...

    • ThunderKeys profile image

      ThunderKeys 6 years ago

      Great Hub! One strongly overlooked perspective is the likely role of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) i.e. non-ionizing radiation, from microwave communications (cellphone, wifi etc), is playing on the poor bees.

      As a professional counselor who has studied psychology for a couple of decades I was recently stunned to discover that there is a vast literature on the selective bio, health and behavioral effects from these kinds of radiations.

      This Hub is for the bees!

      I'm voting it up, useful and awesome,

      -Duddy.

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 6 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up. The bee plight is greatest in single-crop agricultural areas. Urban areas are a different story. I think that we need to do some serious research on phyto-nutrients that promote bee health. Here's a link to a recent news item about healthy bees in Paris, where our buzzing buddies pollinate a large variety of flowers.

      14 August 2010 Last updated at 02:25 ET

      Paris fast becoming queen bee of the urban apiary world

      By Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris

      Read all about it here.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10942618

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      It amazes me that more people aren't worried about this than there are. If bees disappear, plants and trees can't be planted as fast as they pollinate and there goes our oxygen supply. We cannot survive without bees.