Bees are considered to be one of the hardest working insects. Moreover, unlike ants, they benefit not only their colony, but also plants, the environment, and even humans. According to the UN, 32% of all plant products produced worldwide depend on pollinators such as bees. Therefore, many experts argue that the survival of people largely depends on bees. However, recently there has been a very real risk of being left without these insects. Their population has been rapidly declining for a long time. It was previously thought that the extinction was due to the loss of habitat by bees, modern agricultural practices, poor ecology and a number of other factors associated with human activity. However, a recent study by American scientists says that populations are declining even in forests untouched by humans, which is a poor indicator.
The extinction of bees is a serious problem
In the world, not only bees are dying out, but also many other insects, as we talked about earlier. However, bees die out much faster, and their extinction will lead to the most serious consequences. The scale of extinction is simply amazing – the reduction in the population annually reaches 15-20%. If these rates continue, humanity may be left completely without bees by 2035.
A negative trend is observed all over the world, including Russia. For example, it was previously reported that from 2018 to 2019, the number of bee colonies decreased by about 40,000. This means that in total the number of insects in the country has decreased by one and a half billion. Accordingly, the amount of honey produced is also reduced.
The situation is similar in the USA. In the forests in the south-west of the country, over the past 15 years, the bee population has decreased by 62.5%, that is, more than twice. In addition, the number of species of these insects has decreased by almost 40%.
Why are bees dying?
As we said above, among the main reasons for the extinction of bees are human activities, in particular, the reduction of their habitats. The number of forests around the world is rapidly decreasing. This is mainly due to the expansion of agriculture. Gradually, our planet is turning into one big farm in which there is no place for bees. The use of pesticides and the cultivation of monocultures negatively affect the survival of bees.
But, if this is the only reason, then the number of bees should not be reduced in forests and reserves untouched by human activity. Between 2007 and 2022, American scientists explored three different forest areas of the Okoni National Forest, located in northern Georgia, five times to find out if this is true.
The forest areas where they carried out their work did not even have invasive plants, that is, plants introduced from other habitats. But, as we said above, the situation with bees in these forests was just as depressing as in other regions. The researchers report this in the journal Current Biology. But what then is the cause of extinction?
The team believes global warming is to blame. In addition, the problem can also be caused by invasive insects, which are spreading to new territories, in large part also due to global warming. Bee species such as carpenters and leaf-cutting bees are especially vulnerable to them. They nest in hollow trunks under loose bark or inside rotting wood. According to scientists, it is these species that have suffered the most from extinction.
Other insects may crowd them out. In addition, it is possible that the nests of these bees do not protect them from high temperatures, as a result of which they were the first to suffer from global warming. But, in any case, more research is needed to draw final conclusions.
I must say that the bees seem to be struggling to adapt to changes in the environment. They even started building nests entirely out of plastic waste. But this does not save them from global warming and invasive insects.
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The results of this study are very sad, since, according to a number of experts, it will not be possible to stop the growth of the average temperature on the planet in the near future, since the amount of carbon dioxide emissions does not decrease. This means that bees are doomed to extinction, and many plants will die after them.