The Constant Trouble With Honey Bees

Spring has sprung, meaning that the necessity for honey bees is at its peak. The puzzling declination of the species has been the talk of the decade. It all started in 2006, when honey bee colonies in the United States began to mysteriously collapse, thus the name colony collapse disorder (CCD) was coined. This inexplicable phenomenon does not seem to have any specific causes, but, according to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), rising pathogen levels and pesticide traces are a common occurrence in CCD wax and pollen. Many honey bee parasites were proposed CCD factors, but the results were not substantial enough to suggest anything out of the ordinary. Though CCD became less and less evident throughout 2017, bees faced another dilemma: humans.

Though colony collapse disorder raises many unanswered questions about nature, there are other reasons for the international decline in bees. Some agricultural methods have a huge effect on the species, such as pesticides and water contamination. As stated by Greenpeace, insecticides strongly affect the pollinators; even in low doses, the negative results include malformation, weak navigation and feeding behavior, and change in developmental rate. The honey bee population is lower in regions with higher practice in agriculture, shedding a little more light on the declination within the species.

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If bees went extinct, many plants would not be able to properly pollinate. Produce such as almonds, peaches, cherries, and 91 other human-consumed crops rely on bees to pollinate them, meaning the extinction of many important species other than the honey bee. Because of the importance of these tiny insects, their declination was acknowledged with action from many big names. The Obama administration launched the Pollination Protection Research Plan in 2013, and other organizations such as Greenpeace, PETA, and EPA have drawn attention to the protection of bees and other pollinators.

With the widespread awareness of CCD and the effects of agricultural practices, it would be expected that a bee-friendly pesticide would create a scientific breakthrough. However, it seems that the increasing honey bee controversy creates relentless arguments. Like every attention-grabbing topic, the public can never come to a complete consensus. Some would even argue that bee conservation has a negative effect on the recent agricultural outcomes. An article by Geographical UK states that “honeybees have been shown to depress the densities of wild pollinators both in the agricultural landscape and in surrounding natural habitats,” contradicting previous ideas.

So what should you believe? Though the honey bee declination is confusing to say the least, it’s a general fact that without the species, the world would be significantly more different. Because they’re one of the world’s most important pollinators, it’s no wonder that their unexplained declination has raised a few eyebrows along the way. The caution drawn to systemic pesticides could be seen as a positive factor; it not only spreads awareness of bee pollination problems, but it also makes farmers more aware of what they’re putting in their agriculture. Without pesticides, however, unwanted pests can end up affecting the vegetables we ingest. There seems to be a huge variety of opinions on these tiny insects, as their declination and agricultural effects have been making headlines for some time now. With all the public recognition honey bees have earned, it’s time to take action in finding permanent solutions to the problems they face, one that will be beneficial to all.

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