Can we save them?
Do we have a role and what is it?
Believe it or not, you have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food you eat. Where would we be without bees? As far as important speicies go, they are at the top of the list. They are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.
What's killing the honey bees? The main source is the use of excessive pesticides in crops. The intense use of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids (a relatively new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death) has had a major role in the bees' decline. When bees are exposed to neonicotinoids, they go into a shock and forget their way home. (Sort of like the insect version of Alzheimer's).
Another killer of the honey bee is a parasite known as Varrao mites (also known as Varrao destructors). The Varrao can only reproduce in a bee colony. The disease inflicted by these mites can result in bees losing legs or wings, essentially killing them.
How does the decline or possible extinction in honey bees affect us? Without an appropriate amount of bees for pollination, we may lose many or all of the plants that bees pollinate, then many of the animals that eat those plants and on up the food chain. This means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the global human population of 7 billion. Our super markets would have half the amount of fruit and vegetables.
Herbivores, who depend on certain plant species, will be affected first. Their population would decline or go extinct if plants ceased to exist. For example, many cattle used for milk and meat depend on alfalfa and lupins, both of which depend on insect pollination. If the cow's food supply declines, then meat and milk production will decrease. This will seriously affect human diet.
Canola, which is grown to use as both a fuel and cooking oil, depends highly on pollination. It is also used to produce biofuel. If we were to run out of biofuel, we would have to rely on fossil fuels completely, thus putting further pressure on the environment.
Cotton is very reliant on pollination. The disappearance of bees will lead to a huge setback in cotton production, and it will significantly reduce our choices in clothes. (Good luck enduring the heat and humidity while wearing nylon attire).
Fresh water will start drying up as there will be less trees and plants for water retention to occur. With less water and diminishing food, humans could suffer from thirst and starvation.
The tragic irony of this is that by killing bees, we're only hurting ourselves. Human survival depends on the health of the planet and its species, and unless we stand up and pay attention, we will begin to face this fact.
What can you do to help? First of all, put the fly swatter away. We believe that when a bee comes around their goal is to sting us. Not true. They are just scoping the area for plants to pollinate. If you have a yard with available growing areas, plant flowers that are blue, purple or yellow. Clover is a great choice. Bees love clover. If you live in an aparment or somewhere without a garden, a planter box or two can accomplish the same thing.
Bees also love sage, salvia, oregano, lavender, ironweed, yarrow, alfalfa, honeywort, dragonhead, echinacea, buttercup, goldenrod and English thyme. They also need a shallow source of fresh water, like bird bath or a decorative dish that can collect rain water.
Eliminate garden pesticides. Pesticides are bad for humans too. They're worse for bees. If you need something, investigate organic or natural means of pesticide control. People have the idea that organic and natural control doesn't work, but it does. Earth itself proves it. It has been generating and regenerating itself naturally and organically for thousands of years. For more info on natrual and organic ways of controlling unwanted weeds and such in your yard, you can find many tips at OrganicGardenPests.com.
Finally. get the word out to your friends and neighbors about saving the bees. You would be surprised how many don't know the danger these little friends are in.
Now on to earthworms. Yes, they need saving from pesticides too, but that's for another article.