Over the last ten years or so, scientists around the world have been raising alarm about declining numbers of bee populations. It’s called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD – and it may have a significant impact everyone and everything on the planet!
How can declining bee populations affect you?
- Almost 1/3 of the food we consume relies on pollination from bees! This includes production of many types of fruits and vegetables, plus nuts, seeds the oils we obtain from them
- Follow-on effect for other industries; consider livestock/cattle fed on foods requiring pollinations. Many ingredients in the beauty industry are sourced from plant oils as are flavourings and scents for foods.
- Greenpeace estimates the worldwide economic value of pollination to be approximately 265 Billion Euro (that’s about $390 Billion AUD!)* Consider the global financial impact on farmers, growers, businesses, jobs, job growth, individuals, families and consumers
Take human needs out of the equation and consider the impact of bee decline on the environment. Ecosystems rely on delicate links between plants, animals and other organisms. When one link is broken, others follow. Without pollination, the reproduction of many plant species is affected. This not only affects plant numbers, it has follow-on effects throughout the food chain. The impact on eco-sustainability and on plant and animal numbers is a major cause for concern.
What’s causing the decline in bee populations?
While there is no single identified cause of bee population decline, the most commonly cited problems are:
- The use of chemical pesticides called neonicotinoids
- Varroa mites – a type of parasite affecting European and US bee colonies
What’s being done to improve the bee situation?
In 2013, the EU introduced a controversial two year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids. The ban wasn’t supported by all members. Some countries are unsatisfied by the evidence linking these pesticides to the problem. Activists raised concern about chemicals that might be introduced in their place and chemical manufacturers have legally challenged the ban. Still, the ban has been in place since December 1st 2013 – an indication of the level of EU concern - while further scientific studies are being conducted.
How you can help
Organisations like Greenpeace are raising awareness of bee decline to gain community support for action. You can find out more here.
Others are taking matters into their own hands, with many ‘backyard beehives’ popping up all over the globe!
From Tokyo to New York, Sydney and Paris budding beekeepers are setting up bee hives in urban settings; backyard gardens, hobby farms and even rooftops are now sporting personal bee hives! Now that’s sweet!
http://sos-bees.org/, accessed April 7th, 2007