By Harper Brown
Imagine: A world with little to no fruits, vegetables, seeds, or nuts. Nearly 90% of flowers and wild plants no longer exist. Ecosystems altered due to lack of food for the herbivores. Entire food chains affected by these changes. That’s what the world would look like without bees.
Studies have shown that the major decline in honey bee populations began in 2006, with beekeepers reporting a loss of anywhere from 30-90% of their hives. Decline in honey bee populations are normal, especially during the winter, but these numbers were too high to be considered normal. Plenty of factors lead to the death of honey bee colonies. Things such as diseases, certain pathogens, and parasites that target honey bees specifically play a major part in the decreasing honey bee populace, but research shows that the one major thing that is damaging the honey bee population severely is pesticides.
The use of pesticides and more specifically, neonicotinoids (an insecticide meant to kill insects specifically) have drastic and deadly effects on honey bees, such as impairment of honey bee’s neurological functions including memory and behavior, ultimately leading to colony collapse disorder (CCD), where the colony population begins to dwindle down and ultimately disappear. CCD is also caused when the queen bee of the colony dies, something that is happening much faster than normal due to the use of neonicotinoids.
Honeybees are responsible for pollinating up to 70% of the crop species that feed most of the world population. Foods that are not affected by the decreasing honeybee include corn, wheat, and rice, three crops that are considered world-wide staple foods. Foods like apples, avocados, and onions, crops that rely heavily on insect pollination, would become extremely scarce, causing the costs of these foods to spike tremendously. The extinction of honeybees would have a major effect on the economy. If honeybees were to die off completely, it wouldn’t be the end of the world by any means, but our diets would suffer a great deal.