The Vanishing Bees
College Writing II
May 2, 2012
Bees are an intricate part of today’s society in the form helping to produce foods and also their contribution as insects play a valuable part in nature. There is a place, a southern village of Sichuan, China where bees no longer exist. Farmers meet every April with bamboo sticks and chicken feathers to begin pollination of their crops. This long and labor-intensive process the farmers endure is due to the lack of bees (Benjamin and McCallum, 11). Not only is this disappearance of the honeybees happening in China, but it is also being discovered all around the world. There are more than 20,000 bee species known around the world, with the honeybee being the most common. These important bees are disappearing rapidly (Lynn Hermann, 2011). Honeybees are the most important pollinator on the planet. In North American, a third of fruits, nuts, and vegetables require pollination of the honeybee (Seeley, 3). The loss of our black-and-yellow pollinators would mean the serious decline of agricultural products, which directly threatens civilization’s food supply. Research has linked several factors to the rapid decline in honeybees; these factors included over use of chemically treated crops, the Colony Collapse Disorder, and environmental factors. Albert Einstein is reputed to have said: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left” (Benjamin and McCallum, 7). He was speaking in regard to the symbiotic relationship of all life on the planet, which consists of a huge intertwined ecosystem. Each element plays a certain role that is dependent on many other components that work closely together (Higgins, 2007). Society, unfortunately, knows a very small amount about the importance of the honeybee. Ninety percent of commercial crops worldwide owe their existence to the honeybee pollination. (Benjamin and McCallum, 4). Their understanding of the significance of the honeybee and its value to the world’s ecosystem is a tiny step in the right direction. When a honeybee visits a flower to forage for nectar, some of the flower's pollen rubs off the stamens on to the honeybee's body. The bee then moves on to another flower to gather more pollen and further its mission in assisting the hive. The honeybee’s vital role of pollen collection on its body is complemented by the stigma of the flower. Pollination is fundamental because a plant will not develop seeds or fruit if the plant is not pollinated. If the crops are not pollinated, they will fail to produce a harvest. Commercial honeybees have become a recent phenomenon with farmers. Due to the rapid decrease in honeybees originating with pesticides, which kill them off, farmers cannot “naturally” pollinate their crops (Hubbel, 65). In the state of California, each year by the truckloads, honeybees are transported to various parts of the state for the pollination of the almond crops. Before the rapid decline, farmers would have a difficult time accepting the fact that they would have to hire in beehives. Often they also have to hire beekeepers to assist with the hives. This is also happening rapidly outside of North America. One key influence that contributes to the prompt deterioration of honeybee population is the overuse in chemicals. The use of pesticides, especially insecticides on crops, is known to kill or weaken thousands of honeybee colonies in the US each year. Local bees have been murdered sporadically for decades due to insecticides. However, the NAS report considered it unlikely that this has “contributed significantly” to the recent decline. The report stated, “Most pesticide-caused honeybee kills are the result of accidents, careless application, or failure to adhere to label recommendations and warnings (Status of Pollinators in North America, 2006).” It has obviously ignored sub-lethal effects, particularly of new pesticides that...
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