The world is an ever changing place. In many cases, we are the agent of that change. Some of those changes are good, but many are not. Wars, urbanizations, global warming and other factors are constantly altering our environment. For these reasons, we must take care to build our world in a way that leaves the planet better than we got it. Bees are and interesting factor in this huge equation. Will bees go extinct? Bee populations are not on the endangered species list, but they are on the decline. We must protect these important insects if we are going to survive.
Bees are an important factor in our food productions. Plants have both sexes present in their blossoms. In order to reproduce, pollen from the stamen, or male parts, must be transmitted to the pistil, or female part. Bees are the pollinators that move the pollen to the pistil. Not only do they do this, but they cross pollinate, or move pollen from one plant to the pistil of another. This prevents inbreeding in plant life.
DECLINING BEE POPULATIONS
If bees ceased to exist tomorrow, agriculture would also cease to exist. All animals, including us, either eat plants, or other animals that eat plants. So, without pollinators, the entire plant and animal ecosystem consumes itself. In the United States, bee keepers have found a mortality rate of thirty percent of their hives year over year. This is a massive number of pollinators and an unsustainable loss.
Scientists have named this phenomenon colony collapse disorder. The causes of colony collapse disorder have been heavily debated, but it is agreed upon that it is caused by a number of factors. Pesticides, mites and parasites and cell phones all play a role in the decline of pollinators such as the honey bee.
The number one pesticide connected with colony collapse disorder is a family of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides are synthetic pesticides derived from nicotine. Many people know nicotine from the dangers of smoking. Nicotine is a natural pesticide that tobacco plants produce to protect them from insects. Deriving pesticides from known natural pesticides is a method of creating safer pesticides for the environment. And, in most cases, it works.
Neonicotinoids have been completely banned in the European Union. In the United States, we have banned all but five of them. These pesticides work by attacking the nervous system of the insects they control. Bees, in particular, lose the ability to navigate back to the hive when foraging. But removing these pesticides have not stopped the problem. The EU now imports most of its produce from Israel and other countries that openly use neonicotinoids in agriculture. To stop the problem, we need to restrict these pesticides to certified and trained technicians that apply them properly.
MITES AND PARASITES
Bees have natural predators as well. Diseases, mites and other parasites readily attack hives. In Australia and Canada, where neonicotinoids are used but varroa mites are not, bee populations have been thriving. A variety of methods have been used to control mites in bee populations. Some of them are cultural considerations, mechanical means, natural chemicals and synthetic pesticides.
One such cultural consideration is the use of Russian bees. These bees naturally produce a honey in the cells that repels the reproductions of these mites. Often, mechanical means, such as screened bottoms of the hive, make it possible for mites to fall off of bees and not be able to get back into the hive. From organic chemicals such as essential oils, to synthetic pesticides have also been used to chemically eliminate mites from the hive.
Another interesting factor in colony collapse disorder are the growing use of cell phones. Bees have the amazing ability to navigate long distances from the hive to forage for pollen, and then find their way back only to communicate to other bees the precise location of the food source. Bees use a number of different navigation factors to do this, including being able to sense the magnetic north of the planet.
Cell phones and their towers produce a large amount of electromagnet energy. This energy can be very confusing to bees navigation systems. Many bees can get lost and never make it back to the hive. The science on this is still somewhat young, since cell phone use is only twenty or thirty years old, and its growth has been explosive.
WHAT’S BEEING DONE TO SAVE THEM
But the good news is that all is not lost. Scientists are working hand in hand with governments to solve this problem. At the forefront of these endeavors is the nation of Israel. Even though this country openly uses neonicotinoids for agriculture use, they have also done a lot of innovation in bee keeping. Israeli bee keepers are unique in their attention to nutrition. While other bee keepers around the world limit their bees to the pollen of one particular plant, such as clover, Israeli bee keepers vary their food source. This makes the honey’s flavor change from time to time, but it also builds up their immune system and natural defenses.
The Israeli government also plants shrubs and trees in previously empty areas in an attempt to provide more food for bees. This keeps major colonies located together where bee keepers can monitor them. And lastly, Israeli bee keepers have taken great measures to limit the populations of mites and parasites.
HAVING ISSUES WITH BEES AT YOUR HOME?
Bees and wasps are important to our ecosystem, but they can still become pests. If they are in an area that puts you or your loved ones in danger, they can still be dealt with. It’s important to contact your Tulsa Exterminator in these cases. TermMax Pest Control is the best Oklahoma pest control company in the state. We serve the greater Tulsa area including Broken Arrow, Owasso, Claremore, Sand Springs, Pratville, Jenks, Catoosa, Turley, Sapulpa, Coweta, Bixby and much more. Call us today for a free estimate! We are here to help!