Honey Bee Extinction

1 January 2017

After careful thought on this matter, this can be a scary concept to process. Millions of years have passed with the honey bee gracing the earth, and in fact, the honeybee is the only insect that aids in the production of food that is consumed by the human race (“20 Amazing Honey Bee Facts! ). Imagine going to a grocery store and there being no almonds to buy, a scarce supply of apples to choose from, and a very limited amount of blueberries.

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One could try going to one’s local farmers market, but with the disappearance of honey bees, private farmers and vendors would also take a devastating hit. The culprit of this devastating scenario is known as colony collapse disorder. Colony collapse disorder, also known as CCD, is when healthy worker bees disappear from the hive leaving behind honey and immature bees to care for the queen.

Judging for the information at hand, I believe CCD is affecting a majority of the honey bee hives that we rely on for this nation’s crop production. Many Americans know little, if anything, about how serious the situation has become. With honey bee hives vanishing more and more each year, people may begin to ask themselves a multitude of questions such as: How could this mysterious disappearance of honey bees affect the way that I eat? Is the problem so serious to the point that it may be detrimental to the survival of the human race?

If so, what are some things causing this? And what are some things I can do to possibly help prevent the extinction of the honey bee? An in-depth look into the underlying causes of this epidemic will tell us more about how we can help and what this means for the future of our society as a whole. Researchers have named the mysterious disappearance of honey bees Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Tony Stankus states a formal definition to be “a mysterious and devastating syndrome, in which adult bees abandon hives nexpectedly and almost always completely disappear” (Stankus 116).

In fact, Benjamin Oldroyd says Colony Collapse Disorder started as a syndrome in which honey bee colonies began to die off in the winter of 2006 on into the spring of 2007 (Oldroyd 1195). After close examination it appeared that the honey bees were abandoning their hives. It was as if they were afraid of something. Under further investigation, the perplexing mystery of CCD was that in each case it appeared as if the honey bees had completely vanished, leaving only a handful of survivors.

The common symptom discovered in each case was the number of adult bees was very low. When none of the bodies of the dead bees were found, researchers turned to the possibility of parasites or a disease as being the primary suspect. Interestingly, no signs of any of the two threats were present (1195-1196). Another main threat or potential cause of colony collapse disorder could be the use of pesticides. Sinzinger states that “In recent years, growers have been using seeds treated with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which kill insects by attacking their nervous systems.

As a ‘systemic’ poison, these chemicals spread throughout plants, including their flowers and pollen” (Sinzinger 14). He goes on to explain that the Environment Protection agency must do required testing, which concluded that normal use of these pesticides on the bees was not likely to be lethal. Contradicting the conclusion, many scientists speculate these neurotoxins are acting together with other poisons and enhancing their effects all while accumulating in the colonies’ hive (14).

With so many threats adding up to one gigantic mystery, scientist and researchers are left scratching their heads to come up with any answer possible. Many people think that a honey bee’s only purpose is the making of honey. Brit Amos begins talks about the loss of foods stating that “Commercial beehives pollinate over a third of {North} America’s crops and that web of nourishment encompasses everything from fruits like peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries and more, to nuts like California almonds, 90 percent of which are helped along by the honeybees” (Amos).

Honey bees are much more famous for producing honey. However, most people do not know that “the benefits of honey go beyond its great taste” (“Health Benefits of Honey”). For example, “The 3 key health benefits of honey are related to the fact that: 1. Honey is nature’s energy booster 2. Honey is a great immunity system builder 3. Honey is a natural remedy for many ailments” (“Health Benefits of Honey”). It is interesting to think that something as small and insignificant as the honey bee can provide us with so many basic needs.

Colony Collapse Disorder not only affects honey bees, but they also affects wild bees. Richard Gerber quotes “Many people would be surprised to know that 90% of the feral (wild) bee population in the United States has died out” (Gerber). With 90 percent of wild bees extinct, this astounding number really makes you wonder if this goes above and beyond the issues researchers are looking into. Is there something else that researchers and scientist may be overlooking for there to be such a diminishing population of wild bees?

Gerber says that since 2007, 22 states have reported tens of thousands of honey bee colonies being abandoned. He goes on to explain that bee keepers in the U. S. experienced colony losses of up to 80%. With such a drastic sudden change to honey bee colonies caused by CCD, it is amazing that there has not been a bigger effect on America’s crops to date. As colony collapse disorder incidents are becoming more and more common and the disappearance of the honey bee growing by the day, it begins to be a question of how the possible complete extinction of the honey bee will affect our everyday life.

Author Tracy V. Wilson of the article “How Bees Work” explains, “Approximately 15 percent of the food Americans eat comes directly from honeybee pollination. Another 15 percent comes from animals that eat foods that bees pollinate” (Wilson). Almost one-third of the nation’s food supply would disappear completely from the extinction of a tiny insect, and would drastically alter the way we eat on a day to day basis. Not only would we as a human race be affected, but so would the animals that eat things from bees’ pollination.

If the honey bee were to become extinct it would be difficult to say how the world would really be affected, especially the food supply. The human race may not become extinct along with it, but it would certainly have an enormous effect on the food and nutrients we depend on day to day (Wilson). The planet would not be under crisis immediately, but would definitely be at an urgency to find a solution to the lacking of these basic life needs that this environmental disaster would eliminate. Researchers and scientists have looked for the cause and effect of colony ollapse disorder only to come up empty handed without any solutions to the problem.

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