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Why We Need to “Bee” More Cautious

Why the bees are going extinct and what we can do to prevent it

"Thinking Bee!" from DreamWork's Bee Movie

Jacob Adams, Staff Writer

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Recently, bees have been all the buzz. Across the globe, bees have been dying at an unprecedented rate. This is called the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). From the United States to the United Kingdom, species upon species of bees have gone extinct. According to saveourbees.org/uk, “In the 1950’s there were over 50 native species of bees in the UK, yet now there are just 25.” Moreover, according to Environmental Researcher Tim McDonnell, bees have been dying off at a staggering rate of 30percent per year! That’s insane!

There are many theories as to how the bees have been dying. One theory states that the combined use of many pesticides and insecticides has been killing them off. Hazardous ingredients found in pesticides and insecticides help protect agricultural produce from unwanted pests but this adversely harm the bees as well. Bees are vital for the agricultural process because they help with the pollination of fruits and vegetables. According to Beyond Pesticides, “Carbonates, organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, chlorinated cyclodienes and neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees.” So, many farmers who over-spray pesticides or use lethal doses are part of the problem. But it’s not just bees dying. When an animal population falls at the bottom of the food chain, so do the animals at the top. In a Washington Post article about mass bee death, Terrence McCoy said, “A study published in Nature on Wednesday found bird populations in the Netherlands dropped more sharply in areas where neonicotinoid use was highest.” Neonicotinoids are another type of pesticide, which is affecting the bees as well as other insects. When the bee and insect populations drop, so does the entire ecosystem. The birds no longer have as many insects to eat, and we have less food being grown due to lower pollination. Climate change is also affecting the bees. The bees should be migrating north due to rising temperatures, but instead are being compressed down into into the south, according to McDonnell. This is very odd behavior, because the bees are moving into more undesirable territory. The southern habitable limit is moving north, and the bees are moving south, causing this compression theory. By doing this, the bees have less territory to live in, causing some to die off.

Bees are also dealing with new viruses, illnesses, parasites and more. According to The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Since the 1980s, honey bees and beekeepers have had to deal with a host of new pathogens from deformed wing virus to nosema fungi, new parasites such as Varroa mites, pests like small hive beetles, nutrition problems from lack of diversity or availability in pollen and nectar sources, and possible sub-lethal effects of pesticides.” So, on top of what we have been doing to harm the bees, (neonicotinoids, pesticides and global warming) they have also had their own struggles to deal with. So, even if one of these causes would not be enough for the mass decline, all of these combined surely would, and currently is. Although there is no good about this situation, our government has taken action to help stop and prevent this. After all, this affects nearly every person in the US due to food and farming. Everyone needs to eat! According to whitehouse.gov, “President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing an inter-agency Task Force to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”

The White House also proposed 3 goals:

1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;

2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and

3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.”

Although these are just goals, this is a good start to raising awareness and beginning to help stop the issue. But they can’t do everything. This is how YOU can help: first, plant your own garden or hold a bee hive in your backyard. Not only will you be helping the bees, you can also have fun! Secondly, don’t buy products at supermarkets that use neonicotinoids or other harmful pesticides. Colony Collapse Disorder is a worldwide issue, and you can help stop it today!

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Why We Need to “Bee” More Cautious