For years now, scientists have been trying to figure out why so many bees have been disappearing around the world. In what’s become known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), entire colonies have vanished in unprecedented numbers. Now new research suggests that, surprise surprise, it may our profligate use of potent pesticides that is causing the collapse of bee populations.
A controversial type of pesticide appears to scramble bees’ sense of direction, making it hard for them to find home. Starved of foragers and the pollen they carry, colonies produce fewer queens, and eventually collapse.
The phenomenon is described in two new studies published March 29 in Science.
Why should we care about bees? This article in the Guardian provides a good explanation of why bees are very important to us. Writes Alison Benjamin:
“Insects pollinate a third of everything we humans eat – most fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and forage for our livestock. As we become more and more dependent on a monoculture system of growing food, we become more reliant on the honeybee to do the bulk of this work; trucked into an area for just a few days or weeks when a single crop is blossoming, they can be moved in their hives to more fertile pastures when the orchards and fields turn into a barren wasteland. Not so the bumblebees, solitary bees, moths and butterflies who have suffered a sharp decline as a result of modern farming practices…with honeybees dying around the world, our global food production is far from secure.”
Researchers say there is an “urgent need” to re-evaluate the safety of the pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, and do followup studies in this country where some bumblebees are teetering on extinction.