Honey bees are incredibly important to the world’s ecosystem and are in constant danger under the threat of extinction. Honey bees are important to humans for a few main reasons. Their role in the ecosystem is spreading pollen which makes sure that flowers bloom and that the ecosystem remains healthy. However, they are also what is called ‘a sensor species’ for humans: once the Earth is inhospitable for a honey bee it is fast approaching the time it is inhospitable for humans as well.
This issue was most prevalent between 2015 and 2016 when U.S. beekeepers reported that they lost up to 44 per cent of their total honey bee population, as such the question immediately turns to, what is happening and how do we prevent it? In accordance to honey bees disappearing there are two primary reasons that can be tracked by scientists currently.
The first cause is something called CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). It is found when there are not enough worker bees to sustain a colony and as such begins to die off as not enough bees are fed and their numbers continue to dwindle at an almost unstoppable rate. 5,000 beekeepers reported losing up to 90 per cent of their colonies to CCD last year alone. And from 2007-2013 there were at least 10 million domestic beehives lost due to CCD. There are many potential causes for CCD but the most common one is that worker bees are dying in the fields due to pesticides. Because they are dying while hunting for food for the colony no food ever reaches the colony and many bees will starve and die. This issue is common for domestic beehives.
The next most common reason for bee death isn’t actually singularly related to bees and is facing many pollinator species, like butterflies, birds, and beetles, that cause is climate change. While there was once thousands of bee species in North America, a vast majority face possible extinction.
The initial thought many seem to have around bees is that while they spur growth, they can be done without. But in a study performed on pollinator extinction by the United Nations they found that up to $577 billion in global crops could be negatively impacted or lost through bee extinction. That is more than enough destruction of crops and food to cripple some third world countries and create massive famine.
For those who wish to help rebuild the bee population, one easy way is to plant a garden (while going easy on the mulch). The city of St. Catharines has also been trying to help for the past 14 years when they converted a landfill into a nature-park.