The below mentioned essay talks about the disappearance of the honey bees. It traces back from the history of the honey bees to when they started vanishing and the reasons behind such a trend. Several comparisons have been done with the declining trends in different countries to analyze the cause behind.
With the advent of 1980’s, the health of honey bee has witnessed a decline in the United States. The two main reasons of such a change are pests and the upbeat of new diseases. However, the trend has increased by manifolds in the last few years. It is seen that honey bees have disappeared out of a sudden without any sensible cause and this problem is not just concentrated to United States. This has become a global issue now. Even the bee colonies of Europe and china are facing the same trend.
It’s not just honey for which honey bees are known and are famous for. These little busy bodies are more often used to pollinate more than 130 different species of crops which carry a worth of $15 billion in terms of US crops. Besides the huge amount, honey bees play an important and equally viable role in producing the food that we intake. They are used to pollinate vegetables, fruits and nuts which we consume directly as it is. They are also used to pollinate fodder crops and grass that are used for producing meat. The only plants which they do not pollinate include wheat and corn as they can be easily pollinated by the wind. The commercial beekeeping as an industry is no less important as the bee themselves. Usually, beekeepers have to transport their bee hives to fields to release the bees such that they can do wonders on the fields. (“BENBROOK C.”, 2008) This is because most of the large scale vegetable and fruit operations cannot trust just the native bee colonies for pollination of all their crops. With increase in the food demand and decreasing honey bee numbers, growers who rely only on honey bees for pollination of their crops and for most of us who are the consumers of those crops might be in a big trouble if at all the same trend is not reversed.
Usually, every consecutive year, a certain percentage of bees do not survive due to either of the two- environmental factors and diseases. This goes without any specific reason. But these losses may be accounted for only five or ten percent. In the year 2006 though, beekeepers reported having lost about 30 to 90 percent of their bee hives. Since then the losses have remained constant in the 30 to 40 percent range and thus it can be concluded that it is not just the coarse winter that is killing off the busy bees, other factors do come into play.
Now if this is true, there should have been bee bodies left behind but we do not have any evidence to support this. In fact all the honey bees with their colonies have been absconding. It’s more with the adult honey bees which are simply vanishing all of a sudden unlike immature young bees which remain for some time at least. This trend was termed as colony collapse disorder or CCD in the year 2007. On examining it was found that the reasons behind such a sudden disappearance were fungus, parasites and signs of other diseases but not dead adult bees.
Many researchers at the USDA see a huge potential in the CCD to be able to figure out the exact source. So far a narrow list of the probable causes has been prepared. It includes the following, Pesticides, Fungus, Climate, Viruses, Diseases and Parasites.
Actually, the researchers have narrowed it down to everything which implies that they still do not know the reason behind what is causing honey bee colonies to collapse all of a sudden. At the same time, parasites, environmental stresses and pathogens have always remained high on the list. At present researchers are basically trying to recreate CCD on fit colonies by using several different combinations of the potential criminals. (“PATEL A., FONDRK M. K., KAFTANOGLU O., EMORE C., HUNT G., FREDERICK K., AMDAM G. V.”, 2007)
Well, to us as the common people, the disappearance of the honey bee might prove to be a great loss in terms of increased scarcity of food problems worldwide. Since this is happening in the United States, Europe and china, CCD has become a global issue to ponder. Hence, all hope relies only on the researchers who might someday figure out the main cause behind the sudden disappearance of the honey bees but that should be much before some bees are left out to wonder around. There was a recent program documented by the BBC named “Who killed the Honey bee?” It had outlined the complete scenario of Colony collapse disorder discussing about how and why the bees vanished or died away suddenly without even leaving a single sign of goodbye behind. North America has witnessed a rapid decline in the honey bee that the levels have been marked as dangerously low. One-third of British bees have vanished in the Europe so far with France experiencing the same decline in the 1990’s which is yet to recover.
Apart from the suspects already mentioned, one very much suspected criminal of the honey bees is the Varro destructor which is a hated honey bee parasite and is also names as varroa mite. It is known to cause virus and has acquired immense immunity to fight against chemical deterrents. Those bees who are physically week are the first suspects to these deadly viruses as well as to cold weather. (“THOMPSON H., MAUS C.”, 2007) London bees are however less polluted than the English ones in several ways in which they get affected. With several gardens and parks, the London city offers a huge amount and different kinds of flowers for the bees to pollinate and it isn’t even full of insecticides. There resides an urban bee keeper, named Orlando Clarke in the city of London where honey bees are living. According to Orlando, bees act as a barometer for the health of all people on the earth. This kind of conceptual approach is also applied to the sudden disappearance of frogs as well which is known as Global Frog crisis.
As per “Who killed the honey bee?” bee viruses are spreading their wings like a giant octopus with weak bees being the worst sufferers of the same. While some scientists in Great Britain are making continuous efforts to breed disease resistant bees, some others in the U.S. are importing Varroa resistant bees from Russia. Bee keepers are constantly making sincere efforts to keep collapsed colonies distinct from the healthy ones. They are also striving hard towards curbing the spread of parasites like varroa mite as this is a probable solution for the sudden widespread disappearance of the honey bees. (“SUCHAIL S., GUEZ D., BELZUNCES L. P.”, 2001) We as the citizens of our country can also help scientists and concerned authorities by planting more trees and enhancing the garden areas in our houses or anywhere outside as well. We can also keep a variety of flowering outdoor plants and wherever possible we can raise bee hives by ourselves so that these hives remain in our land itself. The disappearance of honey bees is in fact one of the worst things to happen and their extinction can even be at the cost of taking away food from a million populations residing in a particular country.Without the pollination of honey bees, common food products like apples, strawberries, cucumbers, cherries, almonds, canberries, watermelons and raspberries could all prove to be luxury food products and would not fall in the budget of middle class or even lower income group people.
Albert Einstein once stated- “If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years”. His statement was with respect to the cross connection each species on this planet has with each other. With a huge interconnected ecosystem, each element, being plays an important role and all species are equally dependent on each other together create the symphony of life. (“RATNIEKS F. L. W., CARRECK N. L.”, 2010). If there’s damage to any part of the global body, the entire body has to face the consequences. It must be surprising to many but almost 90% of the wild honey bee population in the United States has died. Several sites have been researched recently and it has been found that in the United States and Netherlands the bee diversity has fallen by almost 80 percent and more and more declining numbers are seen in Great Britain too. Recent studies have also shown that the figures of wild flowers that rely on pollination have dropped by a huge 70 percent. Now which led to the other or which one came first, reduction in the wildflowers or reduction in pollinators is yet to be found. The fall in the numbers of honey bee will ultimately lead to a fall in the number of crops they support and this in turn would affect the economy of a country causing a possible famine. Bee keepers in the US are constantly losing their colonies and the figures are as high as 80% with hundreds and thousands of bees dying in each hive. Out of those who do bee hiving on a large scale, commercial bee keepers from 22 states have reported demise of several thousand honeybee colonies. So far the causing factors remain undetermined. One can refer to it as a mass suicide in the bee world. Maryann Frazier, an entomologist from Pennsylvania state university says “There have been cases where there have been these die-offs of bees before, but we have never seen it to this level. One operation after another is collapsing.” Although bees have been performing very well for last 60 years, in the recent years, about 25 percent bee hives are being lost by each bee keeper every winter. “The declining rate 30 years back was a meagre 5 percent to 10 percent”, the state aspirist of Virginia, Keith Tignor said. Eastern bee keepers first witnessed this unusual trend.
Hence, all plants and animals on this planet are bound together in a common bond of complex relations where each species is dependent on the in some or the other way. Each creature, no matter big or small seems to play a vital role in this connection. We humans are dependent on many species of plants and animals for keeping ourselves fit and healthy and any failure of any one part of the ecosystem can disrupt the entire life cycle. Climatic changes affect all plants and animal species but the decrease in the number of honey bee is because of a climatic issue or not is still not proved. It could be that humans approach towards farming and production methods is against the nature and that is causing this havoc. Like all other species, nature might one day swipe out humans as well in this step by step eradication series.
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