What’s Happening to the Bees (and why we should care)

Morgan Gallagher, Design Editor/Co-Photo Editor

Cut to the chasebees are on a dangerous decline. We all know how easy it is to forget about the problems in the world that don’t seem to immediately affect us, but I’m here to plead that it does immediately affect us. Me, you, your sweet grandmother, your pen pal across the world, your history teachereveryone. The species decline of (specifically) honeybees is becoming rapid and desperate, so much so that bees are now protected by federal law for the first time ever. The fight for the bees has become legitimate and desperately needed; at this point, awareness is crucial.

According to the USDA, one out of every three mouthfuls of food in the American diet is a product of bee pollination. For those who don’t know, pollination is the process that keeps much of our agriculture thriving. What does this mean? No bees = less food, and that’s a dangerous consequence. To put even more fear into your hearts, reader, (it’s my job) it was also reported that 42 percent of bee colonies collapsed in the US alone in 2015. That, my friends, is scary.

Though the decline of multiple bee species is an incredibly urgent and frightening matter, let me give the big picture. Without bees, the human population would have about one-third fewer crops to harvest and consume. Though this is not all of the world’s food supply, this result is still incredibly threatening to the ecological well-being of the planet. It all comes down to the widespread food chain operating around us- though many of the specific crops that bees are most responsible for are not 100 percent crucial to the human diet (for instance, the human race wouldn’t cease to exist without mangoes), they are crucial to maintaining a healthy balance in the world’s food chain. With less of the raw crops that bees pollinate, bigger aspects of the food chain will start to be affected as well, until it gets to the very end – us. So, in reality, though we would have one-third fewer crops (which is still detrimental in itself), a much bigger impact will result on these premises. Considering the world’s current struggle with hunger as well as a resulting impact on the price of certain crops, it can’t be denied that we need bees.

The big question of why so many bees are dying off is mostly answered. Pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change, and disease are the big causes of such rapid decline. Considering that these factors are relatively recent on the earth’s timeline, it makes sense that bee species are dying off at this point in time. Yes, a lot of fancy-pancy bee scientists are working tirelessly on this issue – and they’ve come up with a few feasible solutions. One of the main solutions, according to Greenpeace, is the widespread turn to ecological farming – which does not include pesticides or fertilizers that are harming bee populations so harshly. Luckily, this idea has already been practiced throughout parts of Europe, and have proved to produce positive effects. In turn, diseases that are affecting bees will be a lesser problem due to many of the pesticides weakening their ability to fight infections. As for the climate change & habitat loss, it’s up to us to continue treating these factors seriously for the sake of our environment (because both are dangerous to much more than just bees).

As for us, (the NON-fancy-pancy bee scientists) there are ways we can help as well – because I assume you all care about ceasing to exist. Here’s a helpful article on how you can help: http://www.queenofthesun.com/get-involved/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-bees/

You can also donate to bee research and become part of the SAVE THE BEES movement by signing the petition here: http://sos-bees.org/