Due to climate and environmental changes, human over-exploitation, and pesticide abuse, wild bees have been significantly reduced since 1906. Therefore, it affects the pollination of plants and crops, which will have a huge impact on the ecological environment and food supply, which has aroused widespread concern all over the world. In 2019, it had been recognized by the United Nations as a serious ecological and food crisis.
Taipei, Taiwan (Merxwire) –Since 1906, ecologists have noticed that the number of wild bees is declining year by year. In 1994, beekeepers in France discovered for the first time that the worker bees who are responsible for collecting nectar did not fly back to the hive, and the social structure of bees collapsed. In 2006, American scholars were concerned that the disappearing bees would affect the food supply chain, so they actively paid attention to this phenomenon and defined it as “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). In May 2019, the United Nations issued an official warning reminding the world that “disappearing bees and insects” will have a major impact on the entire ecological environment and humans.
The main job of bees is “pollination.” There are more than 25,000 kinds of flowering plants that require the assistance of bees to complete the work of “reproduction”. This shows the importance of bees to the ecosystem. According to statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 35% of major food crops need to be pollinated by insects, of which 80% are pollinated by bees, and the apple we often eat is one of them.
In addition to food crops, many plants require the help of bees to achieve the goal of reproduction. If the number of bees decreases, some plants will not survive, and some herbivores will not survive due to the lack of food. The biological chain will be greatly affected, so the bees were an important species of nature. The decline in the number of agricultural products will also affect the economic income of millions of agricultural families, and the agricultural economy may also collapse and face difficult challenges. So once the bees disappear, food, ecology, and economy will all be severely impacted. This not only affects the daily life of human beings but also causes serious imbalances in the ecosystem.
Why is the number of bees dropping so much?
According to a long-term study in the United States, since 2006, the number of bees has been rapidly declining at a rate of 25% per year. After research and investigation by scientists, the possible causes are as follows:
- Climate change: This is also an important environmental issue that has attracted much attention in recent years. Abnormalities and warming of the global climate have quite obvious effects on the natural world. The flowering period of plants becoming unstable would cause those bees with no honey to collect. Moreover, the variability of climate has also caused an imbalance of species in nature and the number of predators of bees will increase.
- Extensive use of pesticides: bees may bring pesticides in the environment back to the hive when collecting honey. In addition, some beekeepers may use chemicals to prevent Varroa destructor, which will affect the health, memory, and sense of direction of the bee colony. Take the pesticide ” Imidacloprid “, which is researched by scientists from various countries as an example. “Neonicotinoid” will poison and make bees become stupid, and also damage the nervous system. The adult bees can’t find their way home, and the young bees can’t learn the skills of collecting nectar when they grow up, causing a fatal crisis for the bees.
- Increase in natural enemies of bees: abnormal weather increases the number of bee killers, bumblebees. Varroa destructor are parasitic on bees, causing abnormal growth of the bee colony and reducing their immunity. Coupled with the chemicals used by the beekeepers, it becomes a terrible vicious cycle, which can even cause the death of the entire hive.
- Habitat destruction: Human overdevelopment and deforestation have compressed the living space of bees and destroyed soil and vegetation. Bees migrate or decrease due to insufficient food, and plants without bee pollination will face a survival crisis. The deteriorating ecological environment has reduced the number of animals and plants and has also disrupted the balance of biodiversity.
- Colony Collapse Disorder: Climate change, species change, the use of pesticides and chemicals, and the contamination of water resources will cause the “collapse of the colony”. The worker bees who are responsible for pollinating and bringing food back to the hive disappeared in large numbers and let the bee colony disintegrate.
- Air pollution: The geographical expansion of human beings and the rapid increase in the number of industries and vehicles will cause air pollution and deterioration of air quality. It reduces the intensity and effectiveness of the chemical information sent by the flowers to the bees. The chemical substances in the air also make the bees get lost and difficult to locate the direction of collecting nectar.
What can we do for the bees?
- Purchase safe or organic agricultural products to reduce pesticide application during planting.
- Purchase local honey produced in the current season to reduce carbon footprint and avoid possible infections caused by foreign honey.
- Keep the green space or weeds around so that the bees have enough space to inhabit.
- Plant natural flowers and plants on window sills and balconies so that bees have more food sources.
- Reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides to reduce environmental pollution.
According to research, if we do not take more active and effective actions to significantly increase the number of bees, by 2030, the existing number of bees will not be able to supply the growing food demand, and the ecological crisis will evolve into a global food crisis. Let the ecosystem return to balance, preserve biodiversity, and maintain the sustainability of the earth. Do not over-exploit, reduce various sources of environmental pollution, and protect natural green spaces to create a bee-friendly environment.