Introducing the Bees...
Posted: Fri, 23 Mar 2012
What on earth have bees got to do with climate change? I think what's interesting to note in life is not the big changes that happen, but the subtle small changes that are harder to spot, but could have a severe effect on our environment, and our wellbeing. Albert Einstein famously said that "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live". Really? The thing is - bees are important pollinators of up to 90% of our plants and crops around the world including tomatoes and berries.
Unfortunately, the bee population as a whole is in decline the last few years. The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has been successfully raising awareness of the dangers currently facing the UK's honeybees. "We're not facing the same losses as they're seeing in the States, where some bee farms are losing 60-70% of their stock in one year. Here, we're seeing a steady, incremental decline: 30% a couple of winters ago, 20% last year and 14% this year. That may seem to be improving, but in fact 14% is still a big loss. In a more typical year, you'd expect about 5% loss, maybe as much as 10%
Why the decline in the Bee population is happening no-one is sure - increasing use of pesticides is one oft-cited reason. Some suggest though that the effects of climate change – changes in flowering times of plants and shifting rainfall patterns – could be a catalyst in the decline of bee populations, according to a new United Nation's Environment Programme (UNEP) Report (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37731&Cr&Cr1). Below is an excerpt from the press release. A link to the full report can be found below:
The potentially disastrous decline in bees, a vital pollinating element in food production for the growing global population, is likely to continue unless humans profoundly change their ways, from the use of insecticides to air pollution, according to a United Nations report released today.
"The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said. "The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees."
But bee colonies have been collapsing in many parts of the globe, and the report – Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators – cites more than a dozen potential factors ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of memory-damaging insecticides to the worldwide spread of pests and air pollution. It urges that farmers be offered incentives to restore pollinator-friendly habitats such as flowering plants next to crop-producing fields.
"Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature's services in a world of close to 7 billion people," Mr. Steiner said, calling on the world to factor in the often invisible multi-trillion dollar services provided by nature.