By Emily Ashmead
On an Earth so abundant with issues ranging from pesticides to a changing climate, the population of bees, which play a vital role in the wellbeing of our planet through their pollination, is declining.
To gauge the importance of these insects, let’s take a look at their impact on our daily lives. Around 30% of all the food we eat makes its way to our plates due to the work of pollinators. Commercial production of just less than 100 crops is reliant on their pollination. Not only do they help bring food to our tables, but they make quite a few pennies for U.S. agriculture. Producing their hive products, bee pollination adds about $15 billion to crop value. Despite this, they are in steep decline.
Why? Well, as the climate changes, bees are not able to create new hives in cooler areas due to their lack of migration and, so, bee territories have shrunk greatly. As Temperatures rise, blooming occurs earlier, and so the bees are not ready to feed on the pollen when the flowers produce it., Hence, they are more susceptible to parasites and predators, and less likely to reproduce.
Diseases, more prevalent in higher temperatures, such as the parasite Nosema ceranae, have led to colony collapse. AFB, or American foulbrood, is a disease affecting honey bee broods, destroying entire colonies. Affecting young stages of brood development, adult bees are exempt from infection.
Most of the factors which cause colony decline are driven by human activity. Chemicals, such as insecticides, can kill or weaken bees, decreasing their rate of pollination. Single-crop agricultural landscapes can harm pollinators, lowering the diversity of plants, limiting safe areas for nesting, and making inter-habitat access difficult.
Here are a few ways you can help:
Plant a diverse bee garden with plants rich in pollen and nectar.
Limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Eat sustainable honey.
Create a “bee bath”.
Use pest management methods that promote diversity and do not affect pollinators.
Become educated on the benefits of sustainable living.