It’s a warm summer day and you’re snacking on apples, walnuts and avocados. But imagine if none of these foods were available and the wildflower fields all disappeared. With the bee population facing higher risks of extinction, a drop in many produce varieties and vegetation could become a reality in the not too distant future.
It’s normal for bee populations to decrease in winter months; however, bee populations are facing a large drop in numbers in summer months. Summer is when bees should be at their healthiest, so it is concerning that beekeepers are losing bees in such a vital season.
Why Are We Worried?
Bees must pollinate fruits, berries, and nuts in order for the plants to bear fruit. Without bees, a long list of the foods we eat won’t be able to be pollinated. Many commercial crops require pollination, and if bee populations decrease, pollination of plants using other methods would greatly increase the cost of produce for consumers.
The extinction of certain bee species has already happened. Two recently extinct species in the UK are the Cullem’s bumblebee and the short-haired bumblebee. There are currently many other species at risk of being extinct due to shrinking population numbers.
With fewer wildflowers to pollinate, there is a drop in wildflower reproduction. This affects insects, birds and other animals that rely on plants like wildflowers in the food chain.
According to Adopt a Hive, the number of bees in Britain has declined by a shocking 33% since 2007, and the number of hives has dropped by 75% over the last century.
Why Are Bees Disappearing?
The drop in bee numbers cannot be attributed to only one factor. Some of the many causes of the decrease in bee population are:
- Changes in agriculture procedures in the countryside, meaning less wildflower rich habitats and fields. This leads to lack of nutrition and food for bees, resulting in death.
- An increase in the use of pesticides, which are harmful for bees.
- The Varroa mite is a parasitic mite that spreads viruses to bees and can kill entire colonies.
- Wet summers and the changing climate prevents bees from being able to search for pollen.
What Can You Do?
- Quit using pesticides! Buy or make natural pesticides instead.
- Plant native species and flowering plants to help bees find food and habitat. Have different plant varieties to ensure you can provide for bees all year long.
- Provide bees with clean water by filling containers with fresh water in your yard or on your balcony.
- Educate farmers about how to manage their land in order to cater to bees; one main tactic is to increase wildflowers in the countryside.
Now it’s your turn to educate others, get gardening, and show your support for bees!