The quality of our lives is dependent upon the state of the world in which we live. And the health of our world is reflected in nature. We are responsible to our descendants and ourselves for the state of our earth. But when do we take action? Historically, humankind resists change until forced by a crisis. How bad do things have to get before we really need to sit up and pay attention and change the fundamental way we think about, and live in this world? Unfortunately it is easy to overlook the symptoms of the damage we are doing. Most of the time we don’t even notice. If a rare species of frog becomes extinct, or one or two species of coral disappear, it is unfortunate, it is a concern, but perhaps not enough to really matter. Likewise, a crisis is hardly defined by the loss of a particular species of caterpillar or local bird found only in an isolated valley or on some remote island.
But what if honey bees become extinct? This is not some far-fetched idea. Bees of the same subfamily of stingless bees we have today have been found preserved in amber, 80 million years old, yet today bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. As many as 15% of beekeepers have gone out of business as their hives suddenly and inexplicably are abandoned. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has affected 23 percent of the commercial bee colonies in the United States, causing losses of from 50 to 90 percent of the bees in each colony. I suppose we can live without honey (present company excluded), but bees are responsible for pollinating a third of all crops in the world today. Without them, we have a serious food supply problem. But even this we will likely overcome. The true issue is that under our care we are faced with the extinction of an insect that has been here for millions of years. And of course bees are just the face of the issue. Behind the scenes many other insects and pollinators are on the decline. We need to heed this warning and closely examine our agricultural and societal practices with the goal of sustainability and not just short-term yields.
World Regulations & Guidelines Designed to Protect Bees
EU Council Directive 1107/2009 concerning plant protection products such as insecticides – EU Regulations:
European Union (EU) sets rules and regulations for all member countries.
Status of Pollinators in North America – National Research Council
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. This landmark study was produced by the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey. The recommendations in the study have not yet been adopted.
Position Paper on Bee Colony Health and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – AAPA
American Association of Professional Apiculturists (AAPA) exists to be a source of Research-based information and recommendations on all matters of honey bee science and management.