Bee populations are declining drastically: Find out how this phenomenon can wreak havoc globally

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Aug 17, 2020, 05:16 PM(IST)

Honeybee Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

What sounds like a passing issue right now could trigger a food crisis across the globe

We have an alarming problem! Not the ongoing coronavirus pandemic or the political upheavals across the globe, but the increasingly dying populations of bees.

Due to the disappearing numbers of bees, crop yields for apples, cherries, and blueberries across the US has crumbled. And this is not just a US-phenomenon, but is pan-Earth.

The end?

It has been long believed that if bees disappear, humans will too. Many scientists have vouched for the scientific truth in this claim. Without honeybees and wild bees, most of the world’s crops will suffer and face major declines.

What sounds like a passing issue right now could trigger a food crisis across the globe, unless we artificially pollinate the crops.

This picture taken on November 13, 2019 shows bees on a piece of honeycomb with honey at Chinese farmer Ma Gongzuo's apiary in Songyang county in China's Zhejiang province. Once a modest beekeeper, Ma Gongzuo has been driving a BMW since he started selling his honey using a technique increasingly popular with Chinese farmers: video clips that show the origins of his product and open a window onto rural life. The videos let increasingly discerning Chinese consumers see how the honey is made and have helped farmers like Ma out of poverty, which the ruling Communist party hopes to eradicate by 2020.
This picture taken on November 13, 2019 shows bees on a piece of honeycomb with honey at Chinese farmer Ma Gongzuo's apiary in Songyang county in China's Zhejiang province. Once a modest beekeeper, Ma Gongzuo has been driving a BMW since he started selling his honey using a technique increasingly popular with Chinese farmers: video clips that show the origins of his product and open a window onto rural life. | AFP

World Economic Forum spoke to Rachael Winfree, a professor in the ecology, evolution, and natural resources department of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at the Rutgers University-New Brunswich, and the senior author of the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Winfree said the following - “We found that many crops are pollination-limited, meaning crop production would be higher if crop flowers received more pollination. We also found that honey bees and wild bees provided similar amounts of pollination overall” .

Losses in bound

Without pollination undertaken by wild insects, many crops will lose essential micronutrients, and will cause shortages of food. In the US alone, crops that depend on natural pollinators generate over $50 billion a year.

Winfree also suggested improving and creating habitats for native bee species everywhere. “Managing habitat for native bee species and/or stocking more honey bees would boost pollination levels and could increase crop production,” Winfree added.

Recent evidence suggests that European honey bees and native wild bee species are on the decline. Scientists ascertained this after collecting data from 131 farms across the US, British Columbia, and Canada. They took into account the yield for apples, blueberries, cherries, tart cherries, almonds, watermelons, and pumpkins.

Apples, sweet cherries, tart cherries, and blueberries showed signs of limited pollination, suggesting that the crop generation is lower than ideal.

“Our findings show that pollinator declines could translate directly into decreased yields for most of the crops studied,” the study says.

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