There’s some good news for people who suffer from bee sting allergies and bad news for the rest of the world as the population of honey bees seems to be disappearing. Bee farms around the continent have been noticing a dramatic decrease in the population of bees and with no obvious explanation. Losses of up to 70% of populations have been reported, and most bee keepers consider a loss of 20% in off-season to be abnormally large. This alarming loss of honey bees is having an impact on a lot more than honey and may significantly increase the looming food crisis across the globe.
It is estimated that honey bees are used to pollinate around $14 billion worth of food crops in the United States alone. Most fruits, vegetables, and nuts depend on pollination from honey bees in order to end up on our dinner tables. A lower number population of honey bees could very easily mean a lower crop production of fruits and vegetables which means higher dependence on meats and produce shipped from other areas of the world. Some of the possible causes for the mystery of declining bee populations could be virus, poor nutrition, fungus, or pesticide use that affects the bee’s ability to find their way back home, but no definite answer has been found yet.
Other issues affecting honey bees are the growing commercialization of bee farming, added stress on the bees because of high demand for pollination, higher equipment and keeping costs, and habitat loss due to real estate and commercial development. Mites have also been devastating bee colonies and the insecticides used to get rid of the mites have been having a negative impact on the ability for the bees to reproduce at a normal rate. Insecticides have also been linked to the life spans of queen bees being cut in half over recent years. The growing demand for crops and declining populations of honey bees is just going to add further pressure and possibly further decrease in numbers.
The honey bee crisis is not getting better and is having a huge impact on flowering crops that make up one third of our food supply. Although slow progress is being made to find an answer to the mystery that is plaguing the world’s honey bees more progress needs to be made and quickly before this problem starts to really devastate crops which are already struggling because of other issues.