Friday, October 12, 2012

All Your Bees Are Gone? Well That Sure Stings!

Bees are awesome, and we should protect them!
Image taken from Science News
Beginning with the invention of the scarecrow, humans have continued to search for new ways to protect the vital crops that our society depends on. The scarecrow has now been replaced with pesticides, and along with it, a vast array of unwanted ecological consequences have occurred.

One unwanted effect of pesticide use has been the global decline of wild Honey and Bumble Bee populations. Bees, as well as other insects, are the primary pollinators for the majority of the world’s flowering plants. From an agricultural standpoint, bees are responsible for the pollination of many of the crops commonly produced in the United States such as apples, tomatoes, and cauliflower. Without the assistance provided by bees in the pollination of crops, the agricultural industry would find itself in a difficult position.

A class of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, commonly used in the agricultural industry, has been found to be the cause behind the decline of bee populations. A recent study published in Science Magazine has discovered that non-lethal doses of neonicotinoids, similar to the amount found in the crops pollinated by bees,  have a negative impact on the success rates of bee foraging, as well the production of viable queen bees. Due to the decrease in their survival rates, as well as the ability to produce successful bee colonies, the wild bee population in many parts of the Unites States has declined, some populations more drastically than others.

The ecological and financial impact of a major decline in the bee population could result in the loss of bilions; both in the number of organisms that would be affected by their absence, as well as the annual GDP resulting from the crops they help produce. At the moment there is still much debate as to the accuracy of the studies, as well as how to go about protecting bees from the consequences of pesticide use. One thing for certain, without some form of change in how our crops are being protected, the bee population will continue to diminish.

For more information regarding the article on the Impact of Pesticides on Bees.
For the research paper published in Science Magazine.

-Joel Kirksey

No comments: