Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tremendous decline of honeybees in United States

Honeybees are continuing their rapid decline in population for a fourth year in the row in the United States. More than a third of honeybee colonies have failed to survive this winter, and this could have extremely negative impact on crops. If the current estimates are correct, and third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, then this mean that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy, so their decline is really much more than just a ecological problem.

This negative trend started in 2006 with the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of honeybee colonies, and since the 2006 three more million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died. The worst part in this whole story is the fact that scientists still do not know what is causing this catastrophic fall in honeybee numbers.

The possible factors responsible for this decline include parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, viral and bacterial infections, pesticides, poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods, etc. The fact that also puzzles scientists is why so many hives are empty (with no dead bees), and science is still very much struggling to find the right answers.

Many scientists believe that pesticides are the main cause for honeybee decline, which is well supported with the fact that scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees. The World Organisation for Animal Health also stated that irresponsible use of pesticides is likely the main reason for their decline because pesticides damage bee's health making them more susceptible to diseases.

It is also important to mention that these official numbers do not give the full picture because official data measures honeybee losses only during the winter, and the bees are also exposed to pesticides during the summer months so this is bound to have an additional negative impact.

If this decline in honeybee population continues this will be much more than just a ecological problem because we'll be also talking about a huge economic damage. Scientists still haven't come up with the solution to stop this decline because, and many honeybee disappearances are still a real mystery to them.

A lot more funding is needed for the research of this very important issue. Honeybees pollinate 90 commercial crops worldwide, including most fruits and vegetables, and all these plants are dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields. Honeybee problem is therefore much more serious problem than many people think it is.

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