The honeybee population is facing a giant crisis, with beekeepers reporting that they’ve lost almost half of their colonies last year only. American honeybees are dying at an alarming rate, with 6% more deaths reported this year than in 2014. 42.2% of bee colonies died this year, compared to a loss of 34, 2% deaths reported last year.
The growing number of deaths in the honeybee populations poses a vital question. What is the trigger that drives such massive deaths in a living organism, who is the microbe?
Scientists have started a research on the matter and concluded that even more shockingly, the higher number of bees die in the summer rather than winter, when they are supposedly more exposed to uncomfortable conditions.
This findings lead to a more to the point approach. If a larger number of bees die in the summer as opposed to the total of those who die from winter conditions, there must be something in the food, namely the flowers pollen.
The exact cause of massive deaths in bee populations was not yet exactly noted but there are premises of colony collapse disorder, defined as an affection which causes mass deaths in bees for yet unknown reasons. Other speculations consider parasites, pesticides, extreme weather and poor nutrition. From this wide range of possible causes scientists must settle with the most relevant one.
Anyhow, measures have been taken to ban the use of certain pesticides that supposedly affect the health of bee populations in Europe. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency declared they will most likely not approve further use of pesticide until more tests are conducted on the risk the substances may pose to bees and other pollinators as well.
Increasingly poor nutrition is by far one of the most likely contributors to bee’s rapid deaths and particularly responsible for bees dying during summer, when there should be a handful of good food, sun and good weather for survival. With bee populations almost reduced to half and new reality of higher death rates in summer, serious measures concerning nutritional aspects should be taken into account.
A parasite called the varroa could be another cause of deaths, along with neonicotinoids, chemicals found in pesticides.
What scientists are observing now could be an alarm signal that there are some ugly events unfolding with the entire range of our agro-ecosystem. Further analysis should lead to more extensive answers on why such disastrous effects happen at such a large scale in a population of insects.
The crisis is not restricted to the US, as the EU Commission took a measure to ban three variations of neonicotinoids on flowering plants.
Provided that the losses continue at the 33% level, the economic viability of the bee pollination industry will be affected more seriously. Honeybees are not disappearing yet but their slow extinction unfolding will cause raised costs for honey bee pollination services. The increased investments producers will be forced to make will be passed on to us, the consumers, through higher food prices.
Image Source: wired.co.uk