Why Did Honey Bees Start Disappearing?

Last Updated: 09.12.19

 

Bees are not only responsible for the production of the sweet gold nectar named honey but they are also extremely beneficial to our society. Unfortunately, their population is decreasing dramatically and, if we don’t start building more bee hive boxes ourselves and encourage bee keeping, our entire planet could suffer.

If you’re familiar with the drama series “Black Mirror”, we’re sure you’ve already seen the episode that depicts a dystopian world where normal bees are gone and need to be replaced with mini-drones that will perform similar tasks as real bees. The ugly truth is that we’re not far away from this scenario as the recent climate changes are the main responsible factors for the diminishing bee population.

 

Why are bees beneficial?

Since the beginning of the 20th century, there are more than 200 species of plants, animals, and insects that have gone extinct due to excessive hunting, pollution or the direct interference of humans in natural habitats. So, why should we be concerned of yet another species vanishing forever from this planet?

Bees not only contribute to the worldwide biodiversity but are the main reason why we enjoy the tree shadows in a hot summer day, the endless and breathtaking fields of beautiful flowers, and the taste of some delicious fruits and vegetables.

Bees not only produce wax and honey that are used in the cosmetic and food industry, but they also help pollinate wildflowers, apple trees, hazels, limes, pussy willows, cherry trees, plum trees, and others. Even the delicious alfalfa hay that represents the number one food choice for many rodents and ruminants is pollinated by bees.

 

What causes honey bees to disappear?

Unfortunately, there are numerous human-related causes that directly contribute to the poor habitat of certain plants, animals, and insects. Here are some of the most important.

Pesticides and insecticides

These toxic substances pose a real threat not only to pests but also to other beneficial insects. Cultivated lands, farms, and even our personal gardens rely on these deadly substances to protect the crops from the damaging effect of pests, without thinking about the effects on other species.

Although we might enjoy delicious grains and fruits all year-round, the actual costs are hard to calculate and are higher than we can anticipate. Under these circumstances, the only thing we can do to protect our investments in crops and still manage to pollute the environment less and help bees survive is to opt for organic solutions.

Luckily, mother nature has provided numerous alternative solutions to pesticides and fungicides that can keep the crops unaltered by pests while still looking out for the environment. All you need to do is find more information about which ingredients will protect your flowers, gardens or fields from rodents or insects without affecting the rest of the ecosystem.

Rotten eggs have proved efficient in keeping large rodents and wild animals away from crops, while other ingredients like vinegar or peppermint can be easily found in any household and have also proved beneficial.

 

Colony collapse disorder

This phenomenon went under other names throughout the centuries but it mainly refers to when the vast majority of the working bees in a hive disappear, leaving behind only the queen and a small number of nurse bees to look after the hive.

These disappearances have occurred seldom throughout the history of modern apiculture but have intensified in the past few decades all over the world.

Many European countries like Germany, the UK, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy or Greece have been aware of the phenomenon ever since the end of the 1990s, while similar disappearances have occurred in the colonies of honeybees in North America more recently.

According to official data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over ten million beehives were lost between 2007 and 2013.

These losses were mainly attributed to a series of combined factors, often including genetics, infections with certain mites, malnutrition or a number of pathogens. Speculations regarding the sudden death of honeybees also pointed to certain pesticides, which reiterates the negative impact of these toxic substances.

Pollution

One of the main factors that destroy the planet and, along with it, many species of plants, animals, and insects is pollution. We are suffocated by mammoth companies producing tons of toxic gases that are pushed back into the atmosphere and have a negative impact on our ecosystem.

Plastic pollution is another concern since this material isn’t biodegradable and continues to cause a severe impact on the environment, affecting everyone and everything, including honey bees.

Although small steps have been made, the world needs more action from all its inhabitants in order to fight back pollution and keep the planet clean. The European Union, for instance, already banned the use of all plastic bags starting from 2019, hoping to reduce the waste and clean the beaches, forests, and oceans.

Other alternatives to keep the planet green include the use of electric cars and alternative fuels that will decrease pollution and allow bees to enjoy the gifts of nature once more.

 

Climate change

Climate changes go hand in hand with pollution which is mainly caused by humans. In the past 100 years, our planet has already suffered from many climate changes, including the increasing of the average global temperature, and severe meteorological phenomena such as tornadoes, tsunamis, and heavy storms.

As the earth gets warmer, the ice starts to melt and we might face massive floods, potentially wiping off entire cities like New York or Venice, including the natural habitats of bee colonies.

One of the most dramatic effects is that we potentially face the changing of seasons. Springs and falls become shorter and don’t allow enough time for insects and animals to properly prepare for summer or winter. Moreover, temperature changes from one day to another don’t do any good to bees either as they will only get confused and irritated.

 

 

 

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