The pollination caused by the bees result in around $18 billion worth of crop of nuts, vegetables and fruits every year in US. But lately the bees are shrinking in numbers and the use of regular insecticides is making it harder for them to find their way to their nests. Due to this the bees are getting disoriented and vulnerable to the predators. A research recently conducted has revealed that the neonicotinoid insecticide used worldwide by the farmers is causing adverse effects on the honey bees making them leave their hives. Consequently, a study on bumble bees has also revealed similar effect. The only solution as suggested by the biologists to control this problem of bee decline is organic farming that is effective in maintaining ecosystem diversity and preserving the food quality. The overall economic impact the bee decline situation is making on humanity as a whole is certainly frightening and our children will be one to face the consequences of our avarice and negligence.
What factors are contributing to the decline in Bee population?
Some of the facts in UK and US reveal the alarming statistics of bee decline. In UK almost one third of honey bees were killed in 2011 and 40 percent of hives were destroyed. With the honeybees accountable for around 80 percent of pollination by insects, this loss is tremendous. In UK, honeybees alone are known to pollinate 90 crops worth £190 million. In 2011 a major beekeeper reported loss of 360 hives out of 400 and another beekeeper complained about the destruction of around 200 million bees used for commercialization. In US, bee keeping is a major industry and a single beekeeper can own around 70,000 hives at one time that are transported across the continent via aero planes. With the rapid declining in the bee population the bee industry has received a major setback. As per the scientific community the major reasons seem to be our practice in agriculture, viruses and more than anything, our zeal to make more profit but read below to know more specifically on the issues of bee decline.
Environmental stressors: Environmentalists have pointed out certain stressors that are thought to be causing bee decline: Farmers are more inclined to grow cash crops that yield more revenue. This practice of carrying out monocrop farming has decreased the availability of biodiversities in wild plants on which the bees love to feed on. As a result large varieties of wild bees and insects have already been eradicated and the bee decline phenomenon is just another addition to this ongoing cycle. With almost each piece of land being put to use for specific purposes, hedges and bushy areas that make available nesting and feeding opportunities for the bees have become almost extinct. Bee hives are transported across continents for commercial pollination due to which they are exposed to different climates and living conditions for short duration. These abrupt changes have been responsible in bee decline. Unseasonal changes in weather conditions restrict the bees from foraging. Viruses such as varroa mites, fungi and bacteria have grown in excess and are now resistant to chemical treatments. The selection of fewer special species for producing honey and breeding has narrowed down the genetic variations amongst the bees and more docile bees that are albeit more susceptible to diseases and pests have remained
Pesticides: Several factors in combination have been thought to cause the bee decline. One of the major causes is contamination of food crops by increased use of harmful pesticides. According to a research conducted by Maryanne Frazier in the Penn State University, US bees nowadays have to confront the effect of cocktail of pesticides. Innumerable pesticides have been found in the body of the bees during analysis. The most damaging pesticide is neonicotinoids which is nicotine based. These pesticides are coated on seeds and gets absorbed as the seed grows and thus there is a little bit if this insecticide inside each plant. The prominently used neonicotinoid based pesticide is Imidacloprid or Gaucho that has lethal constituent of nicotine and affect the functioning of brain in bees. This damages their homing instinct and system to navigate due to which they cannot find their way back to their hives. The alarming growth in bee decline has resulted in banning of this pesticide by various countries including Germany, Italy, France and Slovenia.
Using GMO's: Another theroy of interest and concern is the GMO foods. With the government using many GMO crops, its hard to say which is original and the GMO crop anymore unless you are a biotechnologist or they are labelled. Using GMO foods seem to have gone really bad with the bees. Their digestive systems have not been able to adapt to the GMO proteins. This hasn't been proved yet but could be a factor.