Are bees endangered?

The short answer is that bees are not endangered, mainly because they are distributed all over the world and are primarily managed by beekeepers. These important pollinators are not actually native to the United States. They were brought from Europe by colonizers in the 17th century to be used to make honey and wax. Some bees managed to escape from their colony and formed wild bee colonies. Of course, the majority of bees are still man-made.

Archaeologists have found traces of beeswax in ancient pottery in what is now Turkey, indicating that humans have been keeping bees for nearly 9,000 years. Experts believe that farmers may have first domesticated wild bees and then collected honey and wax for medicine and food; Because evidence of beekeeping was later found throughout Europe and North Africa near early agricultural sites.

The role of the bee

Bees play an important role in the food production of countries. Today, bees increase the value of US crops by more than $ 15 billion a year, and an annual colony collects about 40 pounds of pollen and 265 pounds of nectar. In 2019, the USDA reported that more than 2.8 million honey-producing colonies in the country produce approximately 157 million pounds of honey.

Because the number of bee colonies fluctuates, it is difficult to determine the exact number of bees. Queens usually live between two and three years and rarely more than five years. Workers usually live only a few weeks to a few months, while males live between 4 and 8 weeks. Each colony typically contains a breeding queen. From 50,000 to 80,000 adult worker bees, and the queen can lay a maximum of 2,000 eggs per day. The queen and 10,000 to 15,000 adult workers hibernate in the winter and feed only on honey collected during the summer months.

Bees in the hive - Attar Khan

Colony collapse disorder

Loss of bees is common in winter, but in 2006, unusual bee deaths occurred in 30 to 70 percent of hives – about 50 percent of bees showed symptoms contrary to the known causes of bee death at the time. . The bee colony is a well-regulated ecosystem, and without the right number of worker bees, entire hives die, a phenomenon known as colony decay disorder. Possible causes are discussed and the main concerns are repellent toxins. Later, viruses, invasive mites and the weather crisis were also considered. Since 2006, winter deaths from bee colonies in the United States have averaged 28.7 percent, almost double the historical figure of 15 percent.

Threatening factors of bees

Managed bees are very effective at pollination, but studies show that they can not do it alone. Pollen, according to a study published in the journal Science Wild native sprayers It has grown in more than 40 significant crops around the world, increasing pollination efficiency and doubling their fruiting rate of bees. Some experts worry that poor management in beekeeping could threaten species of native wild bees, as bees often compete with wild bees in the same habitats.

Pollen bee - Attar Khan

Although bees are highly managed and not endangered, they are still one of the most widespread and important pollinators in the world, playing a role in both agriculture and wild ecosystems. Various factors can negatively affect the balance of the beehive, such as disease, mites, irresponsible use of pesticides, and habitat loss.

1. Ticks

Ticks are a microscopic parasite that attacks and feeds on bees. Some bee species are specifically threatened by certain types of mites, which can cause complete destruction of entire colonies. For the bee, the Varroa mite represents one of the greatest (if not the greatest) threats to this species.

Catch the bee - Attar Khan

This insect, also known as the Varroa destructor, attaches to the bodies of bees and larvae and feeds on adipose tissue, weakening the body’s immune system. In the weakened state, bees are less effective at detoxifying pesticides and are more susceptible to viruses.

2. Disease

Most common bee diseases are highly contagious, meaning that only one person can easily kill an entire colony. Bee diseases can also be transmitted from one species of bee to another, as their habitats are very common, especially for native and wild bees, which are more endangered than bees.

If the hives become too crowded or malnourished, widespread disease can also result from poor hive management. Scientific studies have even argued that bee deaths are not a conservation problem, but a pet management issue.

3. Pesticides

Neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide used in farms and urban landscapes, are absorbed by plants and can harm bees by being present in pollen or nectar. This chemical can only stay in the soil for months or years after a single use. According to research by the Xerces Society for the Protection of Invertebrates, neonicotinoid residues were found in woody plants up to 6 years after initial use, while untreated plants absorbed the remnants of some soil-applied neonicotinoids from the previous year.

Studies on the effects of insecticides have shown that even if the actual levels of insecticides in nectar have no lethal effect on the direct health of a bee, it can reduce its expected yield by 6 to 20%. As one of the most widely used pesticides in the United States, neonicotinoids have been extensively studied, and in 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made full use of this chemical in national wildlife sanctuaries. Deleted. However, the Trump administration lifted the ban in 2018.

4. Loss of habitat

Habitat loss is a serious concern for all pollinators, including bees. As development continues in the wild, there is less room for flowers and plants that bees need to survive. Because crop pollination is highly dependent on wild pollinators as well as bees, the combination of native biodiversity can help stabilize the ecosystem against habitat loss due to environmental and climate change.

Why are bees important?

According to a report on biodiversity policy and ecosystem services on pollinators, pollination and food production, approximately 90% of wild flowering plants and 75% of food products are dependent on pollination. These plants provide resources for other food sources and habitats for a wide range of other species. Honey production itself is an important source of income for many rural communities. Worldwide, 81 million beehives produce 1.6 million tons of honey annually; However, the consumption of honey in the world is more than seven times this amount. This means that this gap is filled by counterfeit honey, and that is why buying original honey is of special importance.

What can we do for bees?

Planting native, bee-loving flowers and plants in your home garden is a great way to help your local bees – especially if you live in an area with few crops. Bees have painful bites that die after the bite. Never harass bees and never remove the hive alone unless you are an experienced beekeeper. If there is an unwanted, wild hive near your property, contact a local beekeeper or experienced person to move the bees properly.