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June 24, 2013 | By:  Samantha Jakuboski
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Global Crisis: Honeybee Population on the Decline

When I first watched the video to the left, I actually believed that BeABee Inc. was a legitimate corporation, but as I browsed the website and clicked on its links, I was redirected to a page that stated, "BeABee Inc. does not really exist. But if we don't act now, it could." The objective of the video and the BeABee website is to gain people's attention and open up their eyes to the decline in the honeybee population. For years, the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) population has been decreasing, and although some people may not realize it, this decline poses a major threat to global agriculture and our future. At first, I felt naive and gullible for believing the BeABee video, but after doing my research, I realized that the idea of human/hand pollination did not seem as bizarre and unlikely as it first had, and in fact, in some areas of the world, hand pollination is an everyday, normal task.

The Colony Collapse Disorder

Beginning in 2006, beekeepers began to notice an unusual decrease and disappearance in their honeybee colonies. It seemed as if thousands of honeybees were vanishing into thin air. There were no traces left behind and no dead bees were being found near the colonies. Since then, more than 30% (and for some unlucky beekeepers, up to 90%) of the honeybee colonies have been disappearing each year, including many worker bees that are vital to the colonies' survival and prosperity. As more and more of the worker bees disappear, their colonies become weak and soon, they are no longer able to function. Due to the collapse of the colonies, this phenomenon is properly named the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). There are many proposed causes for this syndrome, including: the use of pesticides and insecticides, such as neonicotinoid; the influx of the varroa mite; the spread of diseases and viruses; poor nutrition; habitat loss; and stress factors, such as migratory stress.

So, why is the decline in honeybees such a serious issue, and why are honeybees so important?

Honeybees are one of the world's leading pollinators, for they are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops, and we depend on them and other pollinators for one-third of our food supply. Without bees, our produce sections in supermarkets would look bare- with up to 50% less fruit and vegetables- and our favorite foods, such as apples, carrots, lemons, onions, broccoli, and not to mention honey, would become a luxury of the past.

How can we protect our beloved bees?

The mission of BeABee is to raise awareness of the global disappearance of bees. Although the BeABee website is just an attention-grabber, it redirects you to the legitimate Bee Raw website, where anybody can make a pesticide free pledge, donate money to non-profit organizations such as the Xerces Society, and order seeds so that they can plant flowers in their gardens to save the bees in their neighborhoods. I made my pledge to "maintain a pollinator-friendly zone
 in my yard, park, garden or community space," so now, what are you going to do to save our bees? If you think that the bee situation will never get to the point where hand pollination is deemed necessary, think again, because in parts of the world such as China, this is already becoming a reality. For those of you who have never hand-pollinated a plant, let me tell you from experience that it is one of the most painstaking and tedious jobs out there! This year, in AP Biology, when we were experimenting with artificial selection, I had to hand pollinate a small tray of Brassica with a little brush, and after pollinating about twenty plants, I wanted to give up. I cannot imagine hand pollinating acres and acres of crops, so let us work now to save the honeybee population before it is too late, and hand pollination becomes the norm!

Picture Credit: Sami Hurmerinta (via flickr)

Video credit: BeABee Inc. via Youtube


Boyle, Alan ‘Human Pollination'? Sting operation uses social media to benefit bees June 21, 2013 NBC News

Grossman, Elizabeth "Declining Bee Populations Pose a Threat to Global Agriculture" April 30, 2013 Yale Environment 360

"Pesticide Issues in the works: Honeybee colony collapse disorder" May 15, 2012 United States Environmental Protection Agency

"US Report: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance (Update)" May 2, 2013

vanEngelsdorp, Dennis, et al "Colony Collapse Disorder: A Descriptive Study" Public Library of Science

August 16, 2013 | 08:59 PM
Posted By:  Samantha Jakuboski
Thank you very much. I hope that you and your students enjoy reading my future posts! :)
August 16, 2013 | 06:09 AM
Posted By:  Blanco Science
I am a Biology teacher in Oregon and I just wanted to say great work on your blog. It is really well written and I will be directing my students to take a look in the upcoming year. Awesome job!
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