"I've said this over and over, but I'll say it a million mores times - I'm concerned more about the death of a bee than I am about terrorism...because we're losing hives and bees by the millions because of such strong pesticides. We can live with terrorism. We can't live without the bee.”
An estimated one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, mostly wild and domestic bees, especially European honeybees. Last year over 40% of the commercial bees in the US died and beekeepers in Wisconsin and seven other states lost 60% of their colonies to a phenomenon now called “colony collapse disorder.” In Europe 10% of the wild bees are threatened with extinction, and the number of wild bees in the United States, specifically feral honeybees, have dramatically declined from 1972 to 2006.
Scientists are looking at the impact of climate change on pollinators. An international intergovernmental panel on climate change warned in 2014 that pollinators faced increased risk of extinction because of global warming.
OTHER IMPACTS BEING RESEARCHED:
The proliferation of mono-cultures, and single-crop farms exclusively planting things like corn, that reduce the amount of grasslands and prairie habitats that can provide nectar for bees. and properly feed other pollinators.
Application of fungicides, which are used on field corn and soybeans and, in Wisconsin, on some cranberry bogs and many potato fields.
Systemic pesticide application, specifically neonicotinoids, used on nearly all field corn seed and most soybeans in the Midwest. Honeybees collect and carry nectar and pollen to their hives to provide food throughout the winter. Pesticides, whether applied to seeds or plants, get carried back and contaminate the hive. The bees consume the chemicals as they feed on nectar and pollen.
The destruction of habitat. through urbanization with sprawling green lawns and no flowering plants leave bees without necessary nutrition.
BEE THE CHANGE: Join the global effort underway to protect endangered bees, butterflies, and other pollinators from threats to their survival, The network of pollinator protectors is large and far-reaching, from the United Nations to the backyards of Madison, and the rooftops apartment buildings in our cities. It will take policymakers, scientists and researchers, farmers, corporations, commercial growers, and engaged citizens doing their part by keeping bees and saving or creating habitat.
In April 2015 the EPA enacted a moratorium on new or expanded uses of neonicotinoids. It established guidelines for national parks, interstate corridors, and public housing complexes to acquire seeds and plants from nurseries that do not use systemic insecticides.. (Two years ago, the European Union banned the three most widely used neonicotinoids based on scientific research showing the chemicals can kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors.)
In June 2015, the Obama administration issued its pollinator rescue plan and identified three goals:
Reduce honeybee colony losses to economically sustainable levels. The administration proposes spending $82.5 million in the next budget year on research to accomplish the goal. Current spending is about $34 million.
Increase the number of monarch butterflies to protect the annual migration.
Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators in the next five years.
There are 20,000 known species of bees and 4,000 known species in North America. The best-known species is the European honeybee, and there are 29 subspecies of the honeybee
The honeybee was named Wisconsin’s state insect in 1977
Bumblebee species are eight times more efficient than honeybees at pollinating some crops, like blueberries.
Bees are found on every continent except Antarctica.
Bees feed on nectar, their energy source, and pollen, their protein source.
Some bees are solitary, others live in communities or colonies., like honeybees
Africanized bees in the Western Hemisphere are descended from queen bees accidentally released in 1957 in Brazil from hives operated by a scientist who interbred European and south African honeybees.
FURTHER READING: The Rooftop Beekeeper: A Scrappy Guide to Keeping Urban Honeybees, by Megan Paska. The author from Brooklyn, New York walks readers through the details of getting to know how to be an urban bee keeper, get honeybees, starting a hive, harvesting honey and finding a colony of beekeeping friends.
Bees, Hornets, and Wasps of the World is a great website brought to our attention by an 11 year old aspiring beekeeper name Peyton. who is working on a bug badge for the Girl Scouts. Maybe you junior researcher would be interested in this site is about the different types of bees out there, which ones are important to our ecosystems, which ones are endangered, and which ones make honey,. This list of different types of bees, photos, and descriptions can help you with bee and wasp identification. In this bee guide, they have included pictures of wasps and hornets, too, so that you can watch out for the species often mistaken for bees. (Thanks for the great resource Peyton)..