Honey bees are special animals and they are very important for the ecological balance in the world. Honey bees help plants to pollinate along with the products they produce such as honey, propolis, and wax. By pollinating the plants, honey bees help them to stay alive and reproduce, and consequently, they help all animals and people to find food. They are the key point of the food chain and we, like all animals, need them to survive.
However, in the last decades, the honey bee population all around the world started to decrease. That is not good news for us. Scientists are researching the reasons for this issue and trying to find solutions. But still, honey bees are not protected. They are not on the list of protected animals. This is because of their decrease rate and their remaining population are not under the risk limit. Still, we should foresee the future, and act accordingly in order to protect these miraculous insects from dying out.
A First in History: Bees Are on the Verge of Extinction
Seven different bee species have been added to America’s endangered species for the first time in history. The disappearance of bees, which plays a key role in the course of the planet and in the future of the food, means that other species cannot survive in the world. The American Fish and Wildlife Conservation Service (FWS) has officially announced that bees are among the endangered species for the first time since its establishment. Although this report includes seven species in the Hawaii region, it was also mentioned that bees in North America and beyond are also at risk.
The names of the seven species mentioned in the report are as follows:
- Hylaeus Anthracinus
- Hylaeus Assimulans
- Hylaeus Facilis
- Hylaeus Hilaris
- Hylaeus Kuakea
- Hylaeus Longiceps
- Hylaeus Mana
The most important reason for the disappearance of bees, which ensure the reproduction of one-third of the fresh food that we consume by carrying the pollen among plants while putting it from flower to flower to make honey, is the pesticides used in agriculture and climate change. You can also choose to consume vegetables and fruits that are not poisoned with chemical drugs to protect bees, and grow the bees’ favorite plants on your balcony and garden.
26 Years Late Confession: Pesticides Kill Bees!
Unfortunately, the “Bee Crisis” continues on a global scale. Bees lose their lives with record numbers, and eventually found the culprit. Especially in the USA, the pressures of environmental activists and beekeepers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were expected to make a statement regarding the re-evaluation or banning of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The results of dozens of studies indicated that these drugs poisoned bees and other pollen carriers, and eventually EPA accepted these studies.
EPA, Turkey also scrutinizing the agricultural sector, one of the major players in European chemical companies including Syngenta and Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticides produced since 2009 is actually one by one. Bees and pollinators, which are indispensable for the agricultural sector, overcame such a great danger, while the results of the EPA turtle speed progression were followed with great care. As a result, it was observed that especially neonic pesticides – Bayer imidacloprid equivalents – directly affected. EPA highlighted the seriousness of the situation, explaining that this issue could be “filed” and “banned” by the end of this year.
Indicating that these drugs affect bees especially on cotton and citrus fruits, EPA states that the imidacloprid ratios (25 percent per billion which was seen as a normal level in most agricultural areas) affect not only the bees but also the honey produced by them. For now, EPA had such a decision about these drugs with their research for bees. Other studies suggest that these drugs also affect aquatic invertebrates, especially birds, butterflies, and starfish. It is certain that these debates will not fall off the agenda, a coalition of activists and beekeepers who want to reach deeper information on this issue has applied to the federal courts to find out why this drug, which the EPA has approved since 1990, has not been properly examined before.
It is really thought-provoking that the neonicotinoids which are used in a widespread manner all over the world have not been examined by EPA since 1990. It is our wish that the sanctions on this issue will be quickly processed in the USA and other countries where Bayer and Syngenta drugs are used and where pollen carriers are particularly affected by cotton and citrus fruits.
Natural Balance Points: If Bees Extinct, Will Humans Also Extinct?
“If the bees disappear, the people disappear!” You must have heard the claim. Is there any truth to this claim? The shortest and straightforward answer to this question, “Yes!” It will be. But let’s point out that this is a multi-step equation and that people will not perish at once because bees are gone. It is also important which bees we are talking about. For example, although honey bees are the most visible bees, it is unlikely that the entire ecosystem will be affected by the destruction of these bees. On the other hand, the disappearance of Bombus pollinating bees has the potential to affect wider ecosystems.
Moreover, such claims are often comments made by ignoring the adaptive power of evolution. Since it is very difficult to predict the intra-population gene distributions and the selection pressures that may occur on them due to the unpredictable change of the environment; it is difficult to predict which species will disappear and which will survive with a high degree of precision. However, it is true that many other species, even humans, may become extinct in chains if some species in nature disappear.
The ecosystem is fixed at various balance points in the evolutionary process (eg “Nash Balance” is one of them). But these balances are not static; As the environment changes as chaotic and unpredictable, these balance points constantly change. Species respond to this change by evolutionarily differentiating. Of course, they do not do it consciously: Those who adapt to the environmental conditions that have changed to become the “new standard” survive and reproduce, and others disappear. Thus, as the generations pass, the characteristics of living things adapt to the new balance point.
Slow Changes and the Order Illusion
As we have noted, the balance points change in a chaotic and unpredictable manner, just like the environment itself, depending on the change of the environment and the interaction of the gene distributions of the populations with these changing environmental conditions. This change is often quite slow. The fact that we see an “illusion of order” around us is the slowness of this change. The order in which we find ourselves in a system that is constantly changing. Since this change is very slow; We, people who have short lifetimes in the blink of an eye compared to the length of geological, astronomical and ecological processes, find it difficult to perceive change. Accordingly, we think that the environment we are in (our planet, star system, galaxy or Universe) is perfect. This is a big mistake.
Moreover, these changes sometimes accelerate, sometimes slower. It may even become uncontrolled at times when it speeds up! The best example of this is the period of extreme chaotic and rapid change that started with the meteorite that hit Earth 65 million years ago. Even in this chaos, there are some balance points; however, few creatures’ gene pools (all of the genes in the population) contain enough variety to reach these balance points. Therefore, we often see mass extinctions in times of sudden change. However, some lucky species reach these balance points and continue their lives. Thus, evolution enters new pathways and progresses continuously.
The only reason for these sudden changes are not huge physical effects such as meteorite strikes, volcanic eruptions, severe earthquakes. Sometimes, important creatures that contribute to the balance we are in are neutralized or destroyed for various reasons. Important creatures that maintain this balance are sometimes called key species in ecology. When you pull this key from where it should be, the whole balance will be turned upside down at once. Of course, there are new points of balance even in this chaos. However, the number of species that can reach those points is often quite low. The more important point to be understood here is that the species that have achieved this balance have assumed these duties, not because they have been given this task, but because their relationship with the creatures they have evolved in the evolutionary process mutually. The best example of this is bees!
Bees as a Key Species
Bees (and some other insects) are the leading pollinators (pollen carriers) of plants. In the evolutionary process, bees and plants have evolved interconnectedly through a process called mutual evolution. Plants attract bees on them, but at the same time produce nectars with nutritional value to them; If the bees collect this nectar, they carry the pollen that sticks to their bodies to other flowers. Thus, plants constantly reproduce, and bees can constantly feed their colonies. If you pull the bees from this equation, a significant portion of the flowering plants will get incredibly large wounds. Many will disappear. An important part of these flowering plants are plants consumed by people! That’s why people can get serious injuries in terms of nutrition.
Moreover, the destruction of the plants in question will destroy the habitats of countless other creatures. Accordingly, living things that have nothing to do with bee-plant ecosystems will quickly lose their habitat. This will result in the collapse or displacement of other irrelevant balance systems. For this reason, the extinction of bees is risky. The disappearance of every living thing does not have such a catastrophic (extreme destructive) effect on the ecosystem. For example, the disappearance of domestic dogs does not cause such an imbalance. On the other hand, the disappearance of snakes can disrupt many ecosystems; but it may not affect the process as much as bees. Bees are so important and important for being one of the most effective species among the key species.
Of course, another point ignored by these disaster scenarios is a human technology. As our technology advances and strengthens, we may be able to develop drugs and methods that can fill the gap created by bees. However, we currently do not have such a comprehensive and effective method in the long term. Moreover, it will be a pointless and stupid risk to create such huge destruction just because of our greed while bees doing this work naturally. Instead, the focus should be placed on researches to protect bees and the natural course of the ecosystem balance should be maintained. Otherwise, we will have to deal with much more challenging tests.
Causes of Bee Deaths
The causes of bee deaths are as follows:
1) Drugs Used in Agriculture Sector: The harmful effects of drugs used in agriculture on honey bees can vary depending on many factors such as the type of drug used, the place and time of application, the dose applied, duration of action, the method of application and meteorological conditions on the days of application. Water sources and pollen dust contaminated with some pesticides used incorrectly and inappropriately, cause the death of many adult bees and offspring. Pesticides used in powder form are more harmful to bees than medicines taken in liquid form. Because powdered drugs spread more easily and can be transported to the hive with pollen.
2) Quality of Raw and Basic Honeycombs Used: It is necessary to pay attention to the raw honeycombs that we have attached to the frames. The brand and quality of the honeycomb you buy are very important. As far as possible, try to make a basic honeycomb by pulling your own wax or try to buy honeycomb from the place you trust and know.
3) Bee Cake and Bee Syrups or Supplement Foods: Properties of bees, bee syrup, etc. for autumn and spring feeding. There are nutritional foods, their quality and hygiene are very important. If possible, make your own cake and branch yourself or supply them from the person or company you trust.
4) Brand of Bee Medicines: Recently, many bee medicines have been released for beekeeping. Do not be fooled by the words that immediately come to the market and see what you see in advertisements. Maybe it really is, but you still have to be cautious. You need to see the long-term results of those drugs and you must act accordingly.
Best Bee-Friendly Books That You Can Buy Online
- The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity (Price: $13.20)
- Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators (Price: $11.94)
- 100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive (Price: $10.66)
- The Bee-Friendly Garden: Easy ways to help the bees and make your garden grow (Price: $2.99)
- National Wildlife Federation(R): Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife, Expanded Second Edition (Creative Homeowner) 17 Projects & Step-by-Step Instructions to Give Back to Nature (Price: $12.12)