Honey Bee Populations at Risk
"Without insect pollination, about one third of the crops we eat would have to be pollinated by other means, or they would produce significantly less food" - Greenpeace International
Honey bees perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. Seventy percent of human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees. Here is a list of crop plants pollinated by bees (Wikipedia).
Since the latter part of the last decade of the twentieth century, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of bees, and report unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies. There is growing scientific evidence that pesticides are playing a significant role. Biologists have found more than 150 different chemical residues in bee pollen, a deadly “pesticide cocktail” according to University of California apiculturist Eric Mussen.
Furthermore, wild bee habitat reduces every year as industrial agribusiness converts grasslands and forest into mono-culture farms, which are then contaminated with pesticides. To stop the world bee decline, we need to improve our destructive agricultural system.
A main reason for this pesticide problem is chemicals used in intensive agriculture and in particular neonicotinoids and phenylpyrazoles. Repeatedly ingesting very low doses of neonicotinoids over long periods can end up killing bees. Chronic poisoning at low doses can also cause immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to diseases in honeybees. Neonicotinoids are the most toxic insecticides honeybees were ever confronted with in the history of industrial agriculture. Reports of massive numbers of bees dying have been flooding in from across the globe. Most reports point to the deaths of honey bees, including the phenomenon that is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Honeybee is a social insect: communication is fundamental to it's well-being. Without communication, the different honeybee casts do not fulfil their duties, cannot exchange key information such as where interesting sources of nectar are or what is the need for thermoregulation of the inside of the hive. Neonicotinoids disrupts communication in the hive and weaken the honeybee colony. All insects have biological mechanisms to detoxify. Honeybees are genetically poor in detoxification mechanisms: they possess half of the most important detoxifying enzymes, compared to some other insects. Thus this is the reason for increased susceptibility to pesticides.
The tests required before approving pesticides are inadequate to understand the special risks that systemic pesticides pose to bees and other pollinators. The risk assessment process used today for evaluating the risks of pesticides to bees was designed in an era before the widespread use of systemic pesticides. The ecotoxicity tests which pesticide manufacturers must submit before their pesticide is approved were developed for older generation insecticides. This approach has come under fire from various quarters for failing to address the specific properties of systemic insecticides, including the neonicotinoids.
Most Noteworthy Organization
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) was established because of serious concerns about the 'plight of the bumblebee'. In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. The BBCT are working toward three main aims:
1. Supporting the conservation of all bumblebees, rare or abundant
2. Raise awareness and increase understanding about bumblebees and the social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits which they and other pollinators provide.
3. Ensure BBCT is able to respond quickly to challenges and change.
What you can do
Save The Bees - 10 Simple Things YOU Can Do!
Pesticide Action Network UK - Fighting to save our pollinators
The Bees in Decline (Greenpeace Campaign)
Chemical and non-chemical alternatives to neonicotinoids
Save Our Bees - Bees are garden friends that need your help
Canadian Honey Council - Save our Bees
Organic Consumer's Association Save the Bees Campaign
Friends of the Earth | Get your Bee saver kit
Save the Bees (Bee Raw)