A few weeks back classmate Devan Kurr posted an article on The Sixth Extinction that sparked my interest in Honey Bee research. Over the last 10 years the Honey Bee species has been rapidly dying out. In 2016 there was a 44% drop in honeybee colonies, with summer losses rivaling the winter. The statistics are conducted every year by Bee Informed and funded by the USDA. The chart below shares colony loss rates for both commercial and small-scale beekeepers from 2006 to 2016.
The fact that bee loss has continued to grow in summer is extremely alarming. Experts know that this issue needs to be resolved fast in order to keep honeybees alive.
If honeybees went extinct should we worry? The answer is yes, absolutely. Honey Bees contribute greatly to our economy; they are the reason we have cotton goods and many nutritious foods like apples, almonds and avocados. Watch this short clip from Life Noggin on “What Would Happen To You If All The Bees Die?”
It’s crazy to think that without bees our economy will suffer at least a $14 billion loss. I don’t know about you but I would like to continue to eat fruits and vegetables for the rest of my life.
In order to save the bees, we must first understand the root causes of extinction. Truthfully we can’t point fingers to one issue, there are many factors contributing to the problem. The three main issues are habitat destruction, parasites, and cell phones. Humans contribute to this issue by expanding infrastructures with construction. Ultimately we are taking away from bee colony habitats and forcing them elsewhere. Parasites are another major issue that is harming the bee species. Trachael (live internally) and Varroa (live externally) mites are the two parasites that infect bees. The infestation from both mites causes deadly diseases that ultimately reduce colony size. The last major issue is the increase in cell phone use. Cell phones give off electromagnetic waves that are harmful to bees. This radiation causes bees to lose the ability to return to their colony. In the end, we need bees and they need our help.
The University of Washington shares some tips on what we can do to help save the honeybee. Here’s what you can do!
- Plant Things that Bees like
- Provide Bee Habitats
- Eliminate Garden Pesticides
- Let your Veggies Bolt (turn to seed)
- Support your Local Beekeepers