For years, the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) population has been decreasing, and although some people may not realize it, this decline poses a major threat to global agriculture and our future. After doing my research, I realized that the idea of human/hand pollination did not seem as bizarre and unlikely as it first had, and in fact, in some areas of the world, hand pollination is an everyday, normal task.
The Colony Collapse Disorder
Beginning in 2006, beekeepers began to notice an unusual decrease and disappearance in their honeybee colonies. It seemed as if thousands of honeybees were vanishing into thin air. There were no traces left behind and no dead bees were being found near the colonies. Since then, more than30% (and for some unlucky beekeepers, up to 90%) of the honeybee colonies have been disappearing each year, including many worker bees that are vital to the colonies' survival and prosperity. As more and more of the worker bees disappear, their colonies become weak and soon, they are no longer able to function. Due to the collapse of the colonies, this phenomenon is properly named the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). There are many proposed causes for this syndrome, including: the use of pesticides and insecticides, such as neonicotinoid; the influx of the varroa mite; the spread of diseases and viruses; poor nutrition; habitat loss; and stress factors, such as migratory stress.
So, why is the decline in honeybees such a serious issue, and why are honeybees so important?
Honeybees are one of the world's leading pollinators, for they are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops, and we depend on them and other pollinators for one-third of our food supply. Without bees, our produce sections in supermarkets would look bare- with up to 50% less fruit and vegetables- and our favorite foods, such as apples, carrots, lemons, onions, broccoli, and not to mention honey, would become a luxury of the past.
How can we protect our beloved bees?
I made my pledge to "maintain a pollinator-friendly zone in my yard, park, garden or community space," so now, what are you going to do to save our bees? If you think that the bee situation will never get to the point where hand pollination is deemed necessary, think again, because in parts of the world such asChina, this is already becoming a reality. For those of you who have never hand-pollinated a plant, let me tell you from experience that it is one of the most painstaking and tedious jobs out there!
Boyle, Alan ‘Human Pollination'? Sting operation uses social media to benefit bees June 21, 2013 NBC News
Grossman, Elizabeth "Declining Bee Populations Pose a Threat to Global Agriculture" April 30, 2013 Yale Environment 360
"Pesticide Issues in the works: Honeybee colony collapse disorder" May 15, 2012 United States Environmental Protection Agency
"US Report: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance (Update)" May 2, 2013
vanEngelsdorp, Dennis, et al "Colony Collapse Disorder: A Descriptive Study" Public Library of Science