Bees are on the verge of extinction for a number of reasons. Because these powerful pollinators play an important role in ecosystems around the world, nature really needs the bees to stick around and stay healthy – and so do us humans. Learn more about this ecological danger and how you can help.
The Birds and the Bees – Nature Needs Them!
We often associate bees with delicious honey – and yes, that’s one of their claims to fame. But bees do so much more for us than simply produce raw honey for adding to teas, toast and other tasty treats.
Bees are known as pollinators, which means they help distribute pollen to their surroundings. Every time a bee lands on a flower and flies off, it carries pollen in tow. That pollen is then dropped through the air or left on other plants. This is a vital part of the process known as pollination, by which plants are able to reproduce and the ecosystem is able to maintain the biodiversity needed for all plants and animals to thrive.
Without pollinators like bees, the world’s food supply could be devastated. In fact, one study conducted by Greenpeace suggests that 75% of the foods that people eat rely on bee pollination at some level. The same study estimates that 70% of all plants at a global level rely on bee pollination to maintain survival. Without bees, we’re looking at an ecological disaster that could wipe out thousands of plant and animal species – including us.
Why Bees are Going Extinct
There are many different factors that contribute to the disappearance of healthy bees. Pesticides (insecticides sprayed on crops in order to deter insect damage) and herbicides (chemicals used for weed control) are a primary concern. When these chemicals are sprayed at any level – from a home gardener with a small yard to a farmer who manages thousands of acres of land – the health of surrounding hives will suffer.
Climate change is another issue that is increasingly deadly for bees. As the planet warms up and water resources change, the environments that are capable of supporting healthy beehives continue to shrink. Less space equals fewer bees and less honey.
Mites are another particular threat that can devastate a healthy hive. This pest infiltrates the hive and causes disease to spread amongst the bees, killing them off quite rapidly. Knowledgeable beekeepers are needed to help oversee the health of honey-producing hives.
How to Help the Bee Crisis
Bees must be protected if we – as a species – plan on avoiding extinction ourselves. Though it seems daunting, there are many things that can be done to help save honeybees, including putting regulations in place to cut down the amount of pesticides used in commercial farming and gardening. The more organic, natural solutions that can be adopted, the better.
Everyday lifestyle choices can also make a difference. Choosing to reduce your carbon footprint, recycle, and shop for items that do not produce excess waste are all good steps to adopting a more environmentally friendly way of life. Buying sustainable products – like natural honey farmed responsibly – can also send a message to companies and lawmakers that consumers are looking for eco-friendly options. Choose to purchase items from small businesses who are committed to sustainable practices. Every little bit helps!