Ecosystem well-‘bee’ing under threat

Bee close-up in yellow

Endangered species
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Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been explained as the collective decrease of bee species and colonies. Millions of bee colonies a year are simply flying off, never to return to their hives, abandoning and leaving their queens to die (Schiffman, 2012).

It should be noted that “this is the biggest general threat to the food supply,” according to Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee and pollination program (Schiffman, 2012).

Albert Einstein (Watson, 2007) has also quoted that “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

It is evident then that saving the bees should be a priority for maintaining the ecosystem and humanity. The factors causing this issue must be addressed, some of these are:

  • Commercial breeding techniques and the resulting decline in bee genetic bio-diversity causing species collapses.
  • Monoculture agriculture, land development and habitat destruction affecting the ecosystem.
  • Toxins or chemicals sprayed on plants known as neonicotinoids and coumaphos reduces mites and other pathogens.
  • GM plants that contains insecticides in their genetic structure.

Scientists, bee keepers, environmentalists and news media give their account of this phenomenon based on their research, observations and evidence.

Pesticides produced by German chemical manufacturer Bayer known as neonicotinoids or ‘neonics’ for short have been used on over 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds as well as being a common ingredient in home gardening products (Schiffman, 2012). Neonics absorbed by the plants contaminate the pollen and nectar which poison the bees’ and disrupt their nervous system and ability to navigate back to the hive. Symptoms include tremors, uncoordinated movement, convulsions, communication, learning and memory loss Another pesticide called coumaphos, used to treat mites, is increasing the bees’ chemical and toxin exposure and significantly worsening the impact of CCD (Schiffman, 2012; Ullrich, 2013).

Bio-tech company Monsanto is possibly another contributor to this issue of bee CCD and the loss of other insects. Their GMO corn is said to cause severe organ damage and other significant health concerns (Gucciardi, 2012; Schiffman, 2012), however studies of the correlations between Monsanto’s GM crops with CCD are well hidden from the mainstream sources. Additionally in 2011, Monsanto purchased ‘Beelogics’, a leading bee research firm recognised by the USDA, media and leading entomologists has stated on their website their primary goal is controlling bee CCD and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) infection crisis and “become the guardian of bee health worldwide (Gucciardi, 2012). This gives them free reign to publish biased research to approve Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed varieties.

Commercial breeding techniques involve artificially inseminating the queen bee to boost productivity of the specific species, but this human intervention decreases the bees’ genetic diversity. These bees have mostly replaced wild pollinators in agricultural areas, and due to the nature of these overcrowded commercial colonies, they are susceptible to mites and other pathogens, which must be controlled by dusting with coumaphos. Also, high-fructose corn syrup is used to feed these commercial bee colonies instead of their own nutrient-rich honey (Schiffman, 2012).

Monoculture agriculture, urbanisation and land development rob the pollinators of a natural and diverse habitat and food sources. From the few surviving bees, evidence shows that insecticides in GMO crops are causing collapsed immune system and were found to have all known viruses. The weakened intestine allows parasite infestation in the bees and the growth of fungi in the hives (Watson, 2007; Schiffman, 2012).

Other factors not studied in this article are the effects of mobile phones frequencies interfering with the bees’ communication and navigation ability, and the effect of airborne chemicals known as chemical trails.

References

Gucciadi, A. 2012, 23 rd April. Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm. Accessed on 2nd February 2013 from http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/11094-blamed-for-bee-collapse-monsanto-buys-leading-bee-research-firm

Schiffman, R. 2012, 9th April. Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved!. Reuters. Accessed on 2nd February 2013 from http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/04/09/mystery-of-the-disappearing-bees-solved/

Ullrich, C. 2013, 13th February. Are Honeybees Losing Their Way?. Accessed on 2nd February 2013 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2013/13/130213-honeybee-pesticide-insect-behavior-science/

Watson, P.J. 2007, April, 10th. Ecological Apocalypse: Why Are All The Bees Dying?. Accessed on 2nd February 2013 from http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/april2007/100407beesdying.htm

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