What's killing the Garden State's honey bees?
Bees fly a few miles in gathering food, so what the neighbors apply can “flavor” what they eat. Many beekeepers suspect the biggest cause of CCD is the various chemicals against pests and weeds. Mar 03, · Colony collapse disorder (or CCD) is occurring all over the world, eliminating an estimated 10 million beehives since and causing an estimated $2 billion dollars in damage. This poses a major problem for civilization as scientists have noted that without these insects, pollination of many fruits and nuts cannot zi255.com: Alexandra Emanuelli.
Despite some alarmist reports coming out recently in the media, what's killing honey bee populations is more complicated than your morning drink order or a favorite brunch add-on. A complicated set of agricultural, environmental and social factors are destroying our best chance at putting food on the table and surviving as a species.
To break down the fluff from the facts, I speak with two researchers to learn more about colony collapse, the importance of wild bee populations, and what readers can do now. The past decade has given way to many calls for action from a variety of sources, from the US government to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO of the United Nations, as honey bee populations continue to decline. This poses a major problem for civilization as scientists have noted that without these insects, pollination of many fruits and nuts cannot occur.
Speaking with two specialists who focus on pollinators, Cameron Newell, Pollinator Conservation Specialist and Bee Better Certified Program Coordinator, and Nathan Donley, Senior Scientist, Center for Biological Diversity, I unpack some of the causes behind this increasingly rapid decline in the honey bee population and learn a few things that we can do to help save and support the remaining ones.
Scientists agree that there are many reasons for the decline in honey bees, from disease to climate change to industrial agriculture. So it's a multi-pronged problem, with pesticides being a major cause for concern. Commonly used neonicotinoids, used as a foliage spray in apples and pears, as well as a seed treatment in cereals and sugar beets, contaminate parts of the plant that would especially affect the bee, including the pollen and nectar.
According to Donley, "they create a pathway that can facilitate how bees are exposed to a chemical known to cause harm. One other class of pesticides that scientists are concerned could become a more important issue in the years to come are fungicides.
Donley explains, "Fungicides are becoming more prominent how to wrap a christmas tree with burlap ribbon recent research finding harm to bees. It's becoming clear that some fungicides can actually make insecticides, like neonicotinoids, more harmful to bees by enhancing their toxicity.
Despite some alarmist reports coming out recently in the media, neither Donley nor Newell would lay the blame of bee death at any particular agricultural product. While certain crops can be more resource intensive almond farming, for exampleDonley and Newell argue instead that industrial agriculture in general is to blame for wiping out plant and ecosystem diversity, which harms bee populations.
Newell commented, "In fact, I'd say almond farmers as a group are very cognizant of bee health because of their reliance on them for pollination of their crop. What is often missed in this story is the destruction of bee diversity, caused by an industrial agriculture system that creates monocultures that crowd out native species. What is the zodiac sign for november 12 explains, "Any time you convert an area of land from a diverse habitat to a monoculture, you are destroying the amount of land an insect can utilize.
Many native bees are specialists, meaning that they only pollinate one or a few species of plants. They have no use for corn or soy or wheat and those crops destroy native plant communities that once thrived. Why are native bees important? The honey bees often discussed are known as "managed," they are agriculture animals and are crucial for crop growth and development, but unfortunately are only a part of the story.
Some 4, bees are native to the US, many of which are the kind of specialist pollinators that Donley describes above. When what does jhc mean in text lose those specialist pollinators, we lose native plant species. Donley notes, "We have so many species of bees that are overlooked because they don't have an economic component to their lives.
But they are so vital to what makes our country beautiful and unique. The lack of diversity in bee species could be another major cause and a potential solution.
Projects such as Xerces work with growers to improve the conditions of bees and other invertebrates on farms by providing guidance for everything from building habitats, pesticide management and creating a variety of forage for a diverse range of bee species. Their third party certification program, Bee Better Certifiedprovides consumers with the knowledge that growers are working towards conservation.
Want to do your part? Newell recommends that consumers engage with companies and ask what they are doing to help protect bee species, "ask the companies that they are buying their food from what they are doing to help protect pollinators and push them to do more.
When consumers talk, companies listen. What's Killing the Honey Bees? By Alexandra Emanuelli March 02, Pin FB ellipsis Share. Bees pollinating a flower. Photo by Getty Images. Share options. Close Login. All rights reserved. View image.
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May 02, · A federal study attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity.
Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate — and a bloodthirsty parasite is at least partially to blame. Varroa destructor — otherwise known as the vampire mite — feeds on bees by drinking their blood. Its bite spreads infection and leaves unlucky pollinators the worse for wear. After an encounter with the destructor, honeybees are more likely to succumb to illness and disease, and eventually death. The mite made its way to the U.
It's native to Asia, where honeybees have evolved to repel the mite with counterattacks of their own, but American honeybees have so far been unable to adapt. As a result, bees are dying off in droves. American beekeepers wave goodbye to roughly one-third of the bee populations they keep watch over each winter. Seasonal honeybee deaths are commonplace, but the rate at which they've risen is steep.
A few decades ago, beekeepers saw losses of 10 to 15 percent of the total honeybee population each season. Between roughly and the present day, deaths have doubled. Scientists have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the decline, but they believe the bite of the vampire mite is a leading cause.
Scientists say additional research is needed to determine a lasting solution to the vampire mite menace — and President Obama thinks he can help. But it's unclear whether Congress will greenlight the fund. Lawmakers have already taken steps, however, to boost the flow of dollars into research. The latest iteration of the farm bill — signed into law in February — set aside money to investigate honeybee health and ways to protect it.
Bug-zapping chemicals are the most effective way to eradicate the mite. But the parasite isn't easily kept at bay. Pettis told members of the subcommittee that the pests have adapted to the chemical stock and are now on their way to becoming entirely resistant.
All this is cause for concern. The country's food supply depends on the health of honeybees. Farmers rely on insect pollination for successful harvests, with foods like almonds, macadamia nuts, cherries, blueberries, and plums all leaning heavily on honeybees for their survival. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, U. And honeybees are responsible for the lion's share of this total — making up three-fourths of crop production.
Hopefully scientists act soon. It's unlikely that honeybees will disappear altogether, but sustained population loss could hit Americans where it hurts. Skip to content Site Navigation The Atlantic. Popular Latest.
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