Why are bees disappearing and the consequences of the disappearance of honeybees are questions that are being asked nowadays all over the world. Unfortunately that has not always been the case until scientists and researchers of various national and international organizations have recently set off the proverbial alarm. But what is exactly going on?
Before I answer that last questions — what is exactly going on — I would like to stress the importance of honeybees to our diets and, of course, the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture published an extensive report and in it is stated that at least 80 percent of the nation’s flowering crops are pollinated by bees and that makes up about 34 percent of what you and I eat — alfalfa, soybeans, apples, broccoli, cotton, almonds, strawberries, oranges, peaches, cherries, asparagus, blueberries, cucumbers, grapefruits, tangerines and much more. Furthermore, the results of a very large study performed at the Cornell University concluded that each year honey bees pollinate approximately $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States alone. If bees become extinct and disappear, there will not be enough insects to pollinate our crops and mankind may have to learn to subsist on just a little more than water. I find that very scary. Don’t you?
Just in case you do not understand what pollination is, here is the brief definition:
Pollination is the act of transferring the pollen from the male part of the flower (anther) to the female part of the flower (stigma). Insects (bees and others) perform this task of moving pollen from one part of the same flower to another or from one flower to another either on the same plant or a different one. Pollination can also be performed by wind, other animals and self-pollinating plants but it is the insects who are the most prolific and reliable pollinators.
Plants that are pollinated by insects are known as entomophilous and they are filled with the sweet nectar that is so attractive to honeybees. A single hard working honeybee visits anywhere from 50 to 1,000 flowers of entomophilous plants on a single trip out of the hive and such trips take up to four hours to complete. Upon returning to the hive, the honeybee delivers the pollen that is then used buy nurse bees to produce the bee milk (royal jelly) that feeds the queen bee and the rest of the colony. If no pollen is available, the queen will stop laying eggs and the entire bee colony will die off.
Honeybees are not the only species of bees that pollinate and/or cross-pollinate the plants of this world. As a matter of fact, many plants will disappear right along with the disappearance of bees because their existence is exclusively dependants on pollination by the various types of bees. For example, red clover and many species of orchids are solely pollinated by bumblebees
So, what is exactly going on? Why should bees be disappearing?
To save their agricultural crops, commercial farmers have been using powerful insecticides that kill off the bees which are needed to maintain those same crops which they are attempting to save. What does that mean? That means that their farmed crops will die off without propagation because dead bees will no longer be able to pollinate them. As you might expect, plants in the wild will also be adversely affected by the disappearance of bees because they too will be left without pollinators. This problem has been going on since the 1980s and it has now reached dangerous levels.
I realize that many people are afraid of bees and their potential stings and that some are even deathly allergic to bee stings. Feel free to count me in with that number and I go way out of my way to avoid them. However, we must do whatever it takes to prevent their disappearance for two main reasons:
1. Bees are sentient beings and deserve to live on earth just like any other sentient being.
2. Bees are naturally beneficial to agriculture crops as well as wild plants and therefore also to humans.
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Filed under: Animal Advocacy / Animal Rights
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