BEES NEED YOU
What Would Happen if All the Bees Died Tomorrow?
It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem.
Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony collapse disorder is an abnormal phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees.
Colony Collapse Disorder has been threatening bees for a while, and they need everyone to help them out. There have been several incidents of acute poisoning of honey bees covered in the popular media in recent years, but sometimes these incidents are mistakenly associated with CCD.
Could humans survive without bees?
While from a calorie perspective our food system would be secure, from a diversity standpoint, things would be bleak. Much of our produce, like almonds, peaches, plums, apples and cherries, rely on bee-assisted pollination. In fact, “One analysis of the global crop market found that pollinators are essential or highly, moderately, or slightly necessary for 91 crops consumed by humans,” Niño says. “We would definitely lose many of the foods that make our diets vibrant, healthy, and nutritious.”
How would our food supply change without bees?
Plants can be pollinated by hand (or, in the future, by drone). Last year, China’s Hanyuan county showed humans hand-pollinating pears, most likely in response to massive reductions in China’s bee population. But hiring humans is pricey. “MIT graduates calculated that the cost of hand-pollinating a hectare (about two acres) of apples would be approximately $5,715-$7,135. This compared to a recommendation of one two-story colony per acre at a high rental price of $45 per colony and $90 a hectare carries a much heftier price tag,” Niño says.
Dead Bees don’t Necessarily Mean CCD
Certain pesticides are harmful to bees. That’s why we require instructions for protecting bees on the labels of pesticides that are known to be particularly harmful to bees. This is one of many reasons why everyone must read and follow pesticide label instructions. When most or all of the bees in a hive are killed by overexposure to a pesticide, we call that a beekill incident resulting from acute pesticide poisoning. But acute pesticide poisoning of a hive is very different from CCD and is almost always avoidable. With CCD, there are very few if any dead bees near the hive. Piles of dead bees are an indication that the incident is not colony collapse disorder. Indeed, heavily diseased colonies can also exhibit large numbers of dead bees near the hive.