Since 2006, honeybees have quickly been disappearing in staggering numbers across the American landscape potentially causing an agricultural disaster. Until recently, the phenomenon has baffled scientists who were at a loss to determine the cause of these massive losses. Read on to learn more about current revelations and research on this most disturbing issue.
Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that comprise 90 percent of the world’s diverse food supply. Scores of foods we eat every day such as fruits, vegetables, and even coffee wouldn’t find their way to our kitchens without honeybees. Concerned scientists, consumer groups, and beekeepers are alarmed at the decline in honeybee populations due to the chronic use of neonic pesticides, which are utilized on annual and perennial plants found in lawns and in gardens. They fear an enormous loss to agriculture as honeybees pollinate plants that produce about a fourth of all foods Americans consume. Home improvement giant, Lowe’s, has agreed to stop selling this pesticide by the spring of 2019, following the example set by a few other retailers who have eliminated these products from their shelves over the course of the last year.
One June morning in 2014 in Portland, Oregon, a group of customers gathered in the parking lot outside a Target Store. Greeting them was a most disturbing sight; the lot was covered with thousands of dead and dying bees. An estimated 50,000 bees and as many as 300 bee colonies perished. The day before a powerful insecticide had been sprayed on surrounding Linden trees. A study released by environmental group, Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute in 2014 revealed 51 percent of all garden plants purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Wal-Mart in 18 cities throughout the United States and Canada contained (at the time of the 2014 study) neonicotinoid pesticides at levels that could harm or
even kill bees. Research indicated even if the bees didn’t die outright, the toxins in these pesticides, even in the smallest of quantities, adversely affected their ability to learn, collect food, produce new queens and find their way back to the hive.
As a result of the severe decline in bee population, late last year the White House announced a plan to fund a task force devoted to reversing the process and restoring nature’s crucial agricultural balance. Some fifteen European nations have already banned the use of these pesticides for two years, but the US Environmental Protection Agency may wait until 2019 to make that decision.
One question remains: Will there be any bees left to benefit from this decision in 2019?
What do you think would happen if there were no honeybees in the world? Did you know male honeybees have no stingers?