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Reduction of Bees and Its Effect on the Environment

In: Science

Submitted By kireki
Words 1819
Pages 8
Introduction

Bees are essential organisms of almost all of the world’s terrestrial ecosystems. Bees are flying insects that are in the same class as the ants and wasps among others. These small insects are responsible for pollination and wax production and honey production. They inhabit every continent except for a continent known as Antarctica.

Importance of bees

The insects are known for its role in pollinating a large percentage of the flowering plants. They participate in sexual reproduction that ensures cross pollination. This process ensures genetic diversity in the food chain that ensures that there is flow of energy from the primary producers to higher levels of consumers. Since green plants are source of food for other organisms, the reduction of one of the primary pollination agents, or even their possible disappearance, is of concern. The bees are on the decline due to various reasons that will be considered later on. I believe the there more pros than cons that can be obtained from the bees.

Factors for reduction of bees

The disappearance of bees is a very frightening scenario that is subject to an explanation. There various reasons as to why there has been a reduction of bees. This are explained as follows:
The sustainability of agriculture is a healthy function of ecosystem services ensures as that it intensifies to meeting growing demands for food production. Climate change, however, may have major influence on the main ecosystem functions, and services such as pollination services. The changes in the time of growth, flowering and maturation of crops, with a resulting influence on crop-related biodiversity, especially pollinators, can be attributed to climate changes. Crucial biological events such as insect emergence and date of onset of flowering need to occur in synchrony for successful pollination interactions. Therefore effective pollination is largely dependent on biological timing
Crops such as mangoes in tropical regions, or almonds or cherries in temperate regions, have periods of mass blooming over relatively short periods, requiring a tremendous peak in pollinators. To be maintained in the ecosystem, and available for these peak periods of pollination demands, alternate resources for pollinators are needed to bracket crop flowering. Climate change may have profound impacts on the timing of these events.
The drastic weather events accompanies global warming may have intense influence on pollinators that are previously stressed from climatic change. Small bees and beetles, to mention but a few may be most adversely affected. A hostile weather condition presents the bees with difficulties. During this periods pollen and forage collections is irregular. Even in the event that the bees went out for collection of such items, the pollen and nectar are scarce throughout the entire season. In this period the queen has some difficulties in mating, and this limits the size of the colony. To maintain the size of the colony throughout the winter season or adverse climatic condition, the size of the colony is reduced during autumn.
Insecticides in particular pose the most direct risk to pollinators. They are widely applied in the environment, mostly around crop land localities. The relative role of insecticides in the global decline of pollinators remains poorly characterized, it is becoming increasingly evident that some insecticides, at concentrations applied routinely in the current chemical-intensive agriculture system, exert clear, negative effects on the health of pollinators – both individually and at the colony level. The instructions on the packaging usually state “Dangerous to bees”. This is because if the chemical is sprayed directly on to bees they are likely to be harmed. All pesticides are intensively researched before approval is given for their sale and use. This includes the pesticides’ effects on the environment and some beneficial insects. The effects on honeybees are assessed both inside the hives and on bees while they are foraging for nectar and pollen. When used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and by not spraying open flowers, the risk to bees can be reduced. Particular concern has been raised about some neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam). These systemic insecticides were used by farmers and gardeners to control a wide range of pests. Minute quantities of these systemic chemicals get into sap, nectar and pollen of treated plants. In addition several bee poisoning incidents with these neonicotinoids have occurred in many European countries as a result of incorrect application by farmers and some research has shown harmful, often sub-lethal effects on the foraging ability of honeybees and the colony size of bumblebees.

Environmental issue
Declining Bee Populations Pose a Threat to Global Agriculture .The danger that the decline of bees and other pollinators represents to the world’s food supply is huge .Every piece of food consumed worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest.
It has been seen in major cities that, beekeepers, have been reporting annual hive losses of more than 30 % or the figure is slightly higher than what the statistics indicate, considerably more than is seen as normal.

Over six European countries, possess large tracts of land that require millions of domesticated bee colonies to pollinate the flowering trees and produce what has become the countries` largest overseas agricultural export.
Bees play an important role in global food production. According to FAO, in the United States alone, the value of insect pollination to U.S. agricultural production is estimated at $16 billion annually, of which about three-fourths is attributable to honey bees. Worldwide, the contribution of bees and other insects to global crop production for human food is valued at about $190 billion. One-third of the human food has its origin directly or indirectly from the bee pollination activity. The agricultural plants pollinated by bees are over hundred. The annual value of money bee pollination to US for instance is calculated to be worthy over $10 billion.
The value is huge in various countries. Food productivity is directly controlled by pollination activity. All post pollination inputs like pesticide application are aimed to increase harvest but to preserve losses. As a result of the increasing benefits accrued, bee pollination still plays an important part in ensuring a sustainable and profitable agriculture that provides reduced disruptions to our environment.
Any changes in agricultural practices that significantly reduce yield rate have the danger of encouraging more wild lands to be converted into farmland to make up for reduced yields. Good bee pollination and optimized crop yields are thus part of a sound environmental management policy.
The economic value of bee pollination goes beyond production agriculture because bees pollinate more than just crop plants. Bees pollinate more than 16 percent of the flowering plant species in the world.
Bee pollination sustains and introduced plants that control erosion, beautify human environments and increase property values. Bees pollinate native plants that provide food for wildlife and have inherent value as members of local natural ecosystems.
Bee-dependant plants touch human life, whether providing us a bountiful food supply or pleasant walk through a park, humans depend on bees. Bees may not necessary to human life, but they are for life as we know it
Research has shown that, Honey bees perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. It indicates that a single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each single day. Seventy out of the top hundred human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world's nutrition, are pollinated by bees.
Without insect pollination, about one third of the crops we eat would have to be pollinated by other means, or they would produce significantly less food. Up to 75% of our crops would suffer some decrease in productivity. Undoubtedly, the most nutritious and interesting crops in our diet, mainly fruits and vegetables together with some crops used as fodder in meat and dairy production, would be badly affected by a decline in insect pollinators; in particular, the production of apples, tomatoes, strawberries and almonds would suffer. The most recent estimate of the global economic benefit of pollination amounts to some €265bn, assessed as the value of crops dependent on natural pollination. This is not a “real” value, of course, as it hides the fact that, should natural pollination be severely compromised or end, it might prove impossible to replace – effectively making its true value infinitely high.

Solutions to bee decline

To transform the current destroying chemical intensive farming techniques, to an n ecological system which is environmental friendly will be associated with many benefits on the part of the environment and food security. The global pollinator health addresses specific issues that are in line with Greenpeace, in the elimination of pesticides that are likely to harm not the bees, but also to maintain the high ecological and fiscal value of natural pollination.
Examples of scientifically based short to medium term actions to help reverse the decline of global pollinators fall into two basic groups:

i. To avoid harm to pollinators by getting rid of probable harmful substances ii. To promote pollinator health that involves changing other practices within existing agro-ecosystems

Ecological farming that maintains high biodiversity without any application of chemical pesticides or fertilizers has repeatedly been shown to benefit pollinator abundance and richness. This in turn benefits crop pollination, and hence potential yields. Ecological production methods bring out many other benefits in addition to those related to pollinators. For example, they can also enhance control of weeds, diseases and insect pests, and inherently increase the overall resilience of ecosystems. Ultimately such methods represent the best options for maximizing ecological services, alongside food production and environmental protection, while at the same time helping to promote sustainable social and economic development.

European agricultural policies – first and foremost the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – should incorporate and act upon current scientific evidence about the benefits of, and threats to, populations of both managed honeybees and wild pollinators. Urgent action is required to protect the essential ecosystem service of pollination. The evidence outlined above of tools which already exist to protect pollinators should be incorporated into agricultural policies as a means of encouraging been enhancing farming practices. In addition, rigorous EU regulations on the use of potentially bee-harming substances should be put into place, following the precautionary principle by incorporating current scientific evidence about harms and vulnerability of honeybees. Precaution should also extend to other wild pollinators, in view of their crucial role in securing pollination services now and in an uncertain future.

References
Abrol, D. P. (2012). Pollination biology: Biodiversity conservation and agricultural production. Dordrecht:
Springer.
Brimner, L. D. (1999). Bees. New York: Children's Press.
Grissell, E. (2010). Bees, wasps, and ants: The indispensable role of Hymenoptera in gardens.
Portland, Or: Timber Press
Michener, C. D. (2000). The bees of the world. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Williams, P. H., & Central Association of Bee-keepers. (1989). Bumble bees and their decline in Britain.
Ilford, Essex [England: Central Association of Bee-Keepers.
Winchester, E. (2005). Bees!. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

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