Do you miss the buzzing sound in your garden or the community park, do you feel the flowers have lesser bees sucking nectar now, if yes, then continue reading this article to know why the population of bees have declined?
Bees are flying insects and close relatives of ants and wasps. Bees are social insects and live in colonies. The beehive consists of a single queen, a few hundred drones, and thousands of worker bees and are some of the hardest working creatures on the planet.
Why Are Bees Important?
They play a vital role in the ecosystem and are an indicator of a healthy environment. But, for a few years, the population of bees and other pollinators are dwindling in abundance in many parts of the world.
There are diverse reasons as to why the population of bees is declining rapidly; this shrinking population poses a huge risk to agriculture and biodiversity because bees are one of the major pollinators of the Earth and are estimated to pollinate the majority of flowering plants around the world.
Bees are decisive to our existence and we must work harder to protect and preserve them.
The bees are the vital pollinators, they pollinate almost 80% of the world’s crops, fruits, and flowers. The process of pollination is the transfer of pollen to a stigma, ovule, flower, or plant to allow fertilization.
The bees pollinate when they visit a plant species to collect nectar, the pollen from stigma, the male reproductive part of flower, sticks and get trapped in bees hair and when the same bee lands on another plant, the pollen is rubbed off onto the stigma, the female reproductive part of the flower, resulting in fertilization.
The bees are important for pollination because they pollinate many crops and support the agriculture industries of many countries, and bees are the reason we have a variety of diet and nutrients on our plates. They account for a third of the $3 trillion worth of agricultural products sold each year.
The bees pollinate a variety of crops such as almonds, apples, cauliflowers, lettuce, onions, pumpkins, radishes, etc. They also pollinate alfalfa, clover, and lupins: which is fodder for cattle, hence support the dairy and meat industry too.
Wildlife habitats and biodiversity:
The bees build homes for many species and make biodiversity through the process of pollination.
The role of bees has helped in the growth of tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and temperate deciduous forests. The growth of forests has further helped in making an ecosystem that allows diverse species to co-exist.
Honey, which bees produce to feed their colonies, is used by bees in the winter season and is also a great value to human beings and a few other insects. Since, prehistoric times honey has been used in meals, baking, and drinks, and are widely used for its medicinal value too.
Bees are also a part of the food chain; at least 24 species of bird, including the blackbird, ruby-throated hummingbird, and startling, prey on bees. Many spiders and insects, like dragonflies and praying mantises, eat bees as well.
Honey bees are very important for the survival of a healthy functioning ecosystem because they are the reasons, we have a diversification of food crops, which feed the billions of people in the world and play a massive role in building the economy of the country.
The bees also provide honey to humans and other insects and birds.
Finally, they help in the growth of wildlife habitats and biodiversity.
Why Are the Bees Dying?
It is the practice of producing a single crop in a given area. Monoculture is not natural hence is not healthy for the environment.
This practice of monoculture farming has negative impacts on the lives of bees because they don’t get the required nutrients from a single standing crop.
Similar types of crops adversely affect the health of bees because the source of nutrients shrinks and leads to a weak immune system in the bees.
Furthermore, pests find monoculture easy prey because they get an abundant identical food source to attack; the farmers use pesticides to protect their crops from pest attacks and these pesticides are very harmful to the bees.
Pesticides such as neonicotinoids are applied to crops to control and kill the pests that plague them. The problem is, they also harm bees.
Lethal pesticides and pollutants act upon a bee’s central nervous system. This can cause all sorts of behavioral and systemic issues relating to navigation, feeding, and more.
Eventually, it can kill them. Seeds, coated in such substances grow into plants that will continue to poison bees and other wildlife as they grow.
Monoculture is the leading cause of habitat, loss of the bees, followed by the massive destruction of forests around the world.
The habitat is lost to resource extraction and human settlement too. Many bees are negatively affected when large areas of habitat are broken up into smaller, isolated patches because these habitat fragments are not large and diverse enough to meet the requirements of all the bees.
Honey bees worldwide is exploited for their honey and other products.
The consequences are honey hunting kills bees, it may for some bee species and in some areas represent a non-sustainable depletion of honeybee colonies and habitat, and honey hunters may cause forest fires.
Parasites and diseases:
The bees are dying at an alarming rate due to parasitic attacks. Varroa mites, a parasite that kills bees by sucking their blood; when the mite attacks the bee, they are succumbing to illness and disease and eventually die.
The major reason for bee decline is global warming. Some wild bees can only survive in a narrow range of temperatures. As their habitats get warmer, the places where they can live grow smaller.
For example, some bees might be forced to live at higher altitudes, where it’s cooler, reducing the space they have to live in.
YOU CAN ALSO READ: HOW CAN PLANTING TREES HELP TO REDUCE CLIMATE CHANGE & REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING
The Impact of Bee Extinction on the Ecosystem
The bees are an integral part of the ecosystem, so losing an important element of our nature can collapse the whole ecosystem. The impact of bee extinction will be enormous and varied for all the species.
Crops and Plants:
There are numerous plants and crops which are pollinated by the bees; butterflies, birds, and other animals also transfer pollens but bees do this effectively because they jump from one plant to another to collect nectar.
Moreover, there are a lot of plant species that are pollinated by a certain type of bees, so losing the population of that distinct bee means losing that plant species too. If bees went extinct, there would be an immense reduction in the production of crops.
The herbivores depend on plants for their survival; many cattle consume alfalfa, clover, and lupins, and bees are the major pollinators of these plants.
So, if there is a decline in cattle fodder, the meat and dairy industry will be affected. Furthermore, the whole food web is interconnected, which means a reduction in the population of any species will affect the whole animal kingdom.
If there will be fewer crops in the field, it will impact the survival of the human population because food shortage will result in world hunger and famine.
The bees also influence the clothing industry because they pollinate cotton, which is the major raw material required by the clothing sector.
What Can We Do to Save the Bees?
Grow bee-friendly plants: In this step, we all can make a garden and plant it with beautiful and bee-friendly plants like sunflower, mustard, safflower, carrot, onion, etc. These attract bees and provides the bees with a variety of nutrients.
If you are a farmer or a gardener opt-out of using harmful and lethal pesticides, instead use organic products and composts. Write to the farming organization to stop using the pesticides which are deadly for the bee.
Host a fundraiser or donate and support your local beekeepers and organizations because they work hard to nurture the bees and the local community.
Sign petitions to the government and the concerned authorities to ban the pesticides which are unhealthy for the survival of bees.
Link to the petition CLICK ME