Declining Bee Populations - A Threat To The Human Race?

by edmondso on October 6, 2016 - 10:27pm

Would the human race die out if bees went extinct? No, probably not. Would human life be any different if bees went extinct? Yes, definitely.

Joachim Hagopian of Global Research published an informative article that aims to discuss the implications of the bee extinction or even a severe decrease in populations. The author explains why bees are at risk, and how we can save them. The different factors contributing to current declines in bee populations are outlined. For starters, some areas are experiencing harsher and longer winters while other areas suffer from severe drought. Another issue comes from the overuse of pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. In support of these claims the author discusses a number of studies. One study found that bees that came into contact with fungicides were three times more likely to become infected by a parasite. Another study found that certain types of insecticides cause acute and chronic poisoning in entire bee colonies. The author suggests that there needs to be better collaboration between crop growers and beekeepers, changes need to be made in land use management, and urban residents should be better educated on the importance of bees.

Major actors mentioned in the article include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Greenpeace, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Other actors involved include local dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, and local beekeepers. Amongst the different actors, conflicts are arising as a result of different beliefs and end goals. It seems as though large honey companies are focusing more on the economic gain, and local beekeepers producing organic honey are more focused on ensuring the beekeeping is done ethically with minimal negative impacts.

Throughout reading this article, I asked myself how and why we let it get this far. I don’t think people take declining bee populations seriously enough considering human life would be greatly impacted if bees were to go extinct. Bees play an important role in all ecosystems and their extinction would impact the highest levels of our food chain. While this article explains a few reasons as to why bee populations are declining, I think the issue of unethical beekeeping was left out. Large companies are not always ethical in the harvesting of honey, and often times the bees are crushed during the removal of the honey. I also felt the author could have went into further detail on current conservation efforts. It was mentioned that the USDA has invested three million dollars in farmer aid, but who else is taking action? I’d like to know what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture or the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture have done or plans to do in conservation of bee populations. Another question I ask is why has such a minimal amount been invested in something so important?

In regards to the conservation of bees, I have a few ideas. First I question why our society is so against the natural plants that grow throughout our cities. My suggestion is that we enforce regulations around the removal of bee friendly weeds and flowers, such as dandelions. Yes, dandelions completely take over every inch of grass in the springtime, but bees love them and it only lasts a few weeks. I think I’ll take the allergies over the implications of the bee extinction. I also think we should also have stricter regulations on the use of pesticides on lawns, perhaps just banning them all together. Residents are trying to create perfect manicured lawns but in doing so wildlife and plants are being severely impacted. I think cities need to stop taming nature, and instead let it flourish. 

References

Hagopian, J. (2016). Death and Extinction of the Bees. Global Research. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-and-extinction-of-the-bees/5375684

Image Source

https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/would-world-without-bees-be-world-without-us

Comments

Hey! this was a great blog post! The title definitely caught my eye as declining bee populations have been a hot topic lately and I wanted to see if I would learn anything new from this post. I also liked the addition of a picture, that made it nicer to look at, I'd have to say! This was an informative blog post as I definitely learned something! Previously, I had just heard about neonictotinoids being the primary source of killing bees but I didn't know that there were fungicides causing issues with the bees as well! That raises many questions for me, like should we be banning all of the various chemicals that cause harm to bees? Because like you said, bees play a very crucial role in the ecosystem and without them, we won't have any plants left that we're using all these chemicals on! I just did a little bit of research and found that a couple of places in Canada have banned neonictotinoids like Vancouver, and Montreal, and Ontario is moving towards an almost total ban it seems. This is a very strong move and can be controversial as well. Some people aren't happy with the decisions because they need the insecticide to get rid of pests actually causing harm. I think that your post might have been improved a bit if you had considered some of the links below and offered your take on the moves by these governments to ban the neonictotinoids. What is the tradeoff? Harmful pests or no bees? Overall, I thought that you wrote a very informative and well-written blog post! Thanks for the information and your take on how to reduce the loss of the bees.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-bans-neonicotin...
https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2015/06/09/ontario-first-in-nort...
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-bans-neonicotinoid-pesti...

CMC 243 Radio Podcast Mason Laufer

Welcome to the SUNY Brockport Radio Podcast. My name is Mason Laufer. Today we’re going to be talking about a very hot- button issue: The human race and their relationship with bees. Bees really are a fundamental part of our lives. We haven’t thought about them too much before recently though. It seems like people are just now starting to realize that the loss of bees will make life very hard. Over the last century, there has been a steep decline in bee populations all across the world. Sarah Edmonson, SUNY Genesee Community College student, in her blog post “Declining Bee Populations - A Threat To The Human Race?” questions why governments aren’t doing more about this situation as it is quite severe. She suggests pesticides as being a main contributor to this problem. The fungicides very often cause bees to get parasites making the sick. The other cause possibly being, that many climates are facing climate change and global warming. These aspects are affecting bee populations and not enough if being done about it. She continues to describe how it seems beekeepers are more interested in the money to be made, than treating their bees ethically. Apparently, many bees are killed in the process of honey extracting. Sarah has a few ideas on how this crisis can be helped. She suggests that laws be put in place against the use of pesticides. As bees thrive in areas with what we call weeds; these chemicals are harming bees all in the name of floral vanity. Bees account for the pollination of a very large chunk of our food. These creatures seem insignificant but their survival is imperative. I had a brief interview with Sarah over email prior to this podcast. She was very skeptical of the future theories of a world void of bees. She told me quote- There's a lot of quotes and such floating around saying that the human race would not survive more than 5 years without bees. I used to believe that to be true until I actually did the research…The human race has been able to adapt to numerous changes, and I believe we'd be able to adapt to a change in our diets- Unquote. Now that’s definitely an optimistic view to a bleak situation! The amount of conflicting information on this subject just makes it that much more serious. More information needs to be spread about the topic. As Sarah said, she believes that we will adapt to a world without bees. She proposes that bees can be saved, and that it will require the spread of awareness. Once people are more aware, then changes can be made to keep these creatures alive and well. So, next time you see a bee in your yard, maybe think twice before stomping on it. We need them more than they need us. I hope this talk informed at least a few more people. Every little bit counts. Thanks to Sarah for answering my questions and giving some insight into this growingly severe dilemma. I’d like to thank all of you for tuning in today. For SUNY Brockport Radio, I’m Mason Laufer.

This is Jessica Stippell with Brockport Radio News.
CNN reports that seven yellow-faced bee species native to Hawaii are now protected under the Endangered Species Act effective October 31st. This is the first time in the United States that the bees will be protected and this arises from research showing a sharp decline in their population.
For more information, I spoke to students in the Management of the Biophysical Environment class from the University of Guelph. Student Sarah Edmondson says that her research as shown that in the last half decade we have lost approximately 30% of the national bee population. The students that I interviewed agreed that there are many causes that can be attributed to the decrease in population. Sarah Edmondson pointed out that the use of pesticides and climate change are two major factors. Edmondson says that studies have found insecticides can collapse an entire bee colony and pesticides to be linked to infections. Cindy Huang included that habit loss is also a major threat to the population. NPR noted that urbanization and the introduction of nonnative animals and plants contribute to the habitat destruction and decline of bee populations. Multiple factors contribute to the decline of the bee population and the influence of each factor is different, Huang highlights, so it is important to look at several factors rather than focus on a single one.
Bees are important to a well-functioning ecosystem. So how will this decline in bee population effect humans and how would it affect us if they were to go extinct? Student Cindy Huang reports that bees are arguably the most important pollinators and they are important to the food supply. Without bees a third of the food humans consume would not exist. Sarah Edmondson adds that food prices would increase and certain food items would become limited. Foods such as apples, onions, berries and coffee all continue to exist because of the pollination linked to bees. The food industry would also suffer Huang points out. CNN reports that the “native pollinators in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than $9 billion annually”.
So what can we do to help the bee population? Student Candice McKay says that it is critical that we conduct studies to determine what is dominantly effecting bee populations so we can effectively implement restoration and conservation methods. Educating and increasing awareness of the threats to bees is also an important tool. As individuals, Huang suggests, planting pollinator- friendly gardens and Edmondson says buying local, organic honey to ensure you are not supporting unethical beekeeping.
By placing the bees on the endangered species list the federal government will be able to better protect the bees and allow for funding.
Again this is Jessica Stippell with Brockport Radio News. Thank you and goodnight.

Hey Jessica, I really liked your podcast! It felt very informative and packed with information on the subject. Its obvious that you know your stuff. The style of the podcast was very formal and it worked for what you did, but I think that if you made it a tiny bit more conversational that the audience may enjoy it even more.

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