Community responsible for promoting health of local bee population
Each year, bees pollinate over $15 billion in crops and produce $150 million of honey in the U.S. alone. Bee pollination plays a vital role in the production of our food, but their populations have steadily declined worldwide, and in the U.S., they are at their lowest point in 50 years.
One of the major reasons for this decline is the incidence of colony collapse disorder in which the worker bees disappear from a colony and leave behind the unhatched brood, food stores, and even the queen bee. Since 2005, when CCD began to appear, beekeepers have reported an average 30 percent loss of their colonies over the winter, an unusually high amount. Many factors have been associated with CCD, ranging from parasites to pathogens, but neonicotinoid insecticides are believed to be a major contributor. Research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America showed that neonicotinoids weaken the immune system of bees and make them more susceptible to infections.
The community can help promote the health of local bee populations. By refusing to purchase pesticides that use neonicotinoids, we can send the message that these products are not acceptable. Should anyone need to use pesticides that contain neonicotinoids, they can minimize damage to local pollinator populations by practicing the Integrated Pest Management guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. Another excellent way to help is by contacting your representative to show support for the Save America’s Pollinators Act, which aims to suspend the use of several neonicotinoids until the EPA conducts further research.
Jonathan Onulak is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior.