Honey Bee Deaths: What’s Happening To Our Honey Bees?
Honey bee deaths have been occurring in vast numbers in recent years. Why are honey bees dying at such an alarming rate? And what would the disappearance of honey bees mean to the world?
Why Are Honey Bees Dying?
There have been many news stories in recent years about the problems that the world’s honeybees are facing.
And as people learn about the honey bee deaths that have been occurring at such a tragic rate, the first and most obvious question asked is ‘why?’
Why are bees dying at such an alarming rate?
But although that’s the most obvious question, it’s also the most difficult question. In fact, it’s a question for which we don’t really have a complete answer quite yet.
And in truth, there is no single answer to the occurrence of honey bee deaths in recent years, because honey bees have been facing sort of a ‘perfect storm’ scenario: lots of different problems coming together within a short span of time, pummeling the bee population with unprecedented ferocity.
How Bad Is It?
It’s bad. It’s very bad.
According to statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the number of managed bee colonies in the United States has plummeted by about a third from the late 1980’s to around 2010.
And that only tells part of the story.
Feral, or wild honey bee colonies, have been present throughout the United States since bees were introduced to the Americas hundreds of years ago.
But that’s no longer the case.
Feral colonies have become quite rare due to all the problems bees have been facing. In fact, in some parts of the country, wild honey bee colonies have all but been wiped out.
That means that in many areas, if there are no beekeepers, there are no bees.
And If The Bees Were To Disappear Completely?
The total disappearance of the world’s honey bees is a scenario almost too horrific to contemplate.
Here’s a quote that’s been attributed to Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.”
Did Einstein actually say that? I’m not sure – I can’t find absolute verification one way or the other.
But this much is for certain: if bees disappeared, we’d be in a world of hurt! That’s because so much of our food supply is dependent upon honey bees for pollination.
Yes, there are other pollinating insects, but they wouldn’t be able to fill the void.
(Even assuming that other pollinating species were undamaged by some of the same problems facing honey bees. And unfortunately, that is NOT a valid assumption!)
Is the problem really so bad that honey bees might disappear altogether? I’m no scientist, but my opinion is no. And from what I’ve been able to gather, not many scientists really consider the extinction of the honey bee to be a plausible likelihood.
But just the fact that we’re at the point of even asking the question – that’s scary enough for me!
There Is A Silver Lining To This Cloud…
Though the rates of honey bee deaths that have been occurring in recent years is both tragic and frightening, there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud.
It’s the fact that you’re interested enough in what’s happening to bees that you’re here, on this website about bees, reading about bees. And so are many others. Many people have become interested in honey bees as a result of this crisis.
In the long run, that will be a good thing.
The increased attention to honey bees, and widespread concerns about their well-being have resulted in many positives:
Many cities, like New York, have dropped asinine laws against beekeeping within city limits (unfortunately, many of these asinine laws are still in place).
More people have become educated about how valuable honey bees are to nature and to us.
More people have become interested in supporting local beekeepers – and therefore, the local honey bee population – by purchasing local honey.
The Varroa mite, also known as Varroa Destructor, is a modern honey bee plague. It’s capable of completely wiping out a honey bee colony, and has been responsible for many honey bee deaths in recent years.
The small hive beetle is a honey bee pest that is relatively recent to North America. The hive beetle originates in South Africa, where it is not a major problem because the aggressive African bees keep it in check.
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DCGH Not rated yet I believe that genetic modification of some fruits and vegetables has a direct effect on the honey bee. Although it is not the only reason, I believe it …