As humans, we are greatly dependent on the population of bees in order to survive. Pollinators like bees play a crucial role in the world’s agriculture. In addition to providing us with honey and beeswax, these fuzzy little insects pollinate fruits and vegetables, which are essential to our diets. According to the FDA, they provide $15 billion worth of crops to the U.S. Sadly, the lives of bees are coming to an end prematurely. Globally, bee populations are declining despite their critical importance to human survival. So, what would a world without bees look like? Here’s what you need to know if bees went extinct.
Why Are The Bees Dying Off?
It has been estimated that the world has about 20,000 distinct species of bees. In the mid-1980s, however, bee populations began declining noticeably, according to Bee Health. Both managed colonies and wild populations of honeybees have experienced serious declines as well. Honeybee colony collapse disorder, which causes hives to lose adult members suddenly, has caused great hardship for the honeybee. Many places have seen a steep decline in the number of bumblebees and other solitary bees as well. So what is causing all the bees to suddenly die and diminish in number?
There are several factors that contribute to why the bees are dying off.
These factors include:
- Pesticides: Chemicals like these are designed, obviously, to kill insects. However, bees are more sensitive to some types of systemic pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids. According to one study on the “High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries”, at least one synthetic pesticide is found in two-thirds of hives surveyed in Canada and the United States.
- Environmental destruction: Urbanization often strips rural areas of all weeds and flowers, that bees need for their survival. In the absence of these flowers, bees cannot feed.
- Climate change: As a result of the unusually warm winters, plants have changed their schedules to adjust to the new conditions. The flowers that bees use to feed on have already bloomed and died when they come out of hibernation, so they have nothing to eat.
- Disease: Bees become more susceptible to pesticide poisoning when they are infected by pathogens carried by mites. Alternatively, weakened bees are more prone to disease if they have already been exposed to pesticides.
Now that we have a better understanding of what is harming bees, let’s look into what would happen if bees went extinct.
What Would Happen If Bees Went Extinct?
The extinction of bees would have a domino effect on all of the ecosystems of the world. There are some plants that are pollinated exclusively by specific bees, such as many bee orchids. If humans did not intervene with hand-pollination, then these plants would die off. In turn, the animals that eat those plants will then start starving and die off, as well as their predators’ numbers becoming fewer, and so on, until they will eventually cease to exist.
It is conceivable that more organisms that depend on them would become extinct or decline as a result of their habitat changes and altered food webs. And although pollination may be carried out by a variety of pollinators, bees are often the most effective of them all. There would be fewer seeds and fewer reproductive successes without bees. Ecosystems would also be altered by this.
Even though cereal grains are pollinated by the wind, most produce is pollinated by insects, especially bees. A decline in the variety of fresh produce and agriculture as a whole is also likely. Almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, chocolate, cranberries, and melons are just a few of the plants that rely on bee pollination. Honeybees pollinate up to 90 percent of blueberries and cherries, for example. Without these foods available, there would be a collapse of food and nutrition security for humans.
Since we know the consequences could be dire, how can we help save the bees?
How To Prevent The Extinction of Bees
There is no doubt that bees play a crucial role in our ecosystem. A majority of flowers and plants around the world are pollinated by them, which means they have one of the most important jobs. Because they are so vital to the environment, we must learn how to help keep their populations healthy.
Here are some great and simple ways that you can help conserve the bees:
- Planting more flowers: It is essential for bees to have safe habitats where they can build their homes and find nutritious food. If you have outdoor space for gardening, you can provide bees with a wonderful place to feed. If you don’t have a home, you can set up a flower bed outside your apartment window or help plant in a community garden.
- Support bee conservation efforts: Bee conservation efforts include a variety of measures. At the moment, Singaporean and Chinese scientists are mapping out bee populations so that they can keep track of them more effectively. As the National Institute for Food and Agriculture studies bee viruses and develops sustainable pollination strategies, the Agricultural Research Service is investigating ways to improve bees’ nutritional health and prevent CCD.
- Refrain from using pesticides: Bees’ sensitive systems are wrecked by synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and neonicotinoids. Make sure you don’t use synthetics in your garden or green spaces. Instead, use organic products and natural solutions like compost to keep your soil healthy.
- Keep local beekeepers in business: Local beekeepers work hard to ensure that their bees are well taken care of. Buying locally-made honey and beeswax products are the easiest way to support the bees. The products from beekeepers’ hives are used to make a fun variety of products as well, such as soaps or lotions!
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