By Devin Cook
Bees make a large part of our world’s ecosystem and helps us survive, as they pollinate plants and crops. Many farmers and beekeepers are running into a crisis, because without bees there would be almost no crops and flowers that are being pollinated. But what is causing this drastic drop in the bee population? A partial answer comes from the government, as they look at chemicals that kill bees; as many of these chemicals are used by farmers in their pesticides. But now, in many states you can be fined and even arrested for using certain pesticides in the state or near a bee farm.
In 1947 the bee colony population in America was at 5.9 million, but is now at a 1.8 million; an 80% decrease. Most beekeepers now only make enough to break even and if this decline continues, by the time we reach 2020 we will have almost no honey bees colonies to pollinate or make honey in America. There are many students who are worried about this, including North student Jacob Laskaris, saying that, “It sucks because less flowers are pollinated and if they keep dying, I believe there will be an agricultural problem.” Most environmentalists are of the same mind. Bees are still dying by the thousands and it’s not the pesticides anymore. Most states have banned the use of most pesticides as they cause the pests to become immune or tolerant to the pesticide. So what is causing the continued decline after the majority stop on pesticides? Most people know that insecticides tend to kill honey bees, but the wasp and hornet are natural enemies of the bee. It is also known that small birds also like to eat bees, wasps, and hornets. There are many different dangers to the honey bee that people might or might not know about. Some of those are bears, skunks, along with some other reptiles and insects that eat honey bees. Though the most dangerous isn’t the large animals, it’s actually the tiny things that prevent the whole hives from growing as they cause weakness in the immune systems of the bee. This killer pest is the varroa mite. Small, ugly, and a little killer. They are the biggest fear of most beekeepers as they will kill hundreds of bee colonies at a time. This is due to the bee’s inability to fight infections or virus that they would get normally. However, with the varroa mite keeping them in this weakened state, they can’t fight off those viruses, leading to a colony wide death like that of the Black Plague in the 14th hundreds.
When presented with this fact of the varroa mite problem, it left me wondering why we still only focus on the pesticides when the biggest problem is now the varroa mite (which was kept in check by the pesticides which killed the varroa mite). Any solution to solve this problem isn’t being funded or even really researched. What happens if we don’t point this out?