by CAROLINE GAVURA Staff Writer
Next time you see a honey bee buzzing around the room, think twice before squashing it with that napkin. The bees, which are responsible for pollinating more than one hundred different crops in the United States, are dying by the tens of millions.
Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture are still trying to figure out the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) or the sudden and widespread disappearance of adult honey bees across the country.
“Currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of U.S. agricultural crops,” states an official report the USDA released on the matter.
If the bees keep dying at the current rate, soon there will barely be enough bees to pollinate nuts like almonds, not to mention fruits and vegetables such as apples, zucchinis, and plums.
All the money brought in from the crops, known as the honey bee economy, which is worth billions of dollars, is in danger of collapsing if the honey bees die out.
The leading suspect responsible for the deaths is agricultural pesticides, specifically a chemical called neonicotinoid, which has been banned in several European countries for similar bee related problems.
Scientists argue CCD has multiple causes, such as harmful parasites and poor nutrition. Global warming may also be a big part of the disappearance. Last winter was extremely warm, which caused the bees to not hibernate. By the time this winter rolled around, a majority of the bees froze to death.
“I’m really worried about the honey bee situation. If they can’t pollinate our crops, we won’t be able to make any food and people will starve to death,” said sophomore Crystal Burdge.
The solution? Breed better bees. The USDA report recommends trying to find genetic traits in bees that were resistant to certain causes of CCD. Then after breeding them, the next generation would hopefully adapt better to their surroundings and save the thousands of vital crops Americans enjoy every day.
“When people think of endangered species they think of polar bears and tigers. Those are important, but honey bees are even more important and aren’t getting enough attention. They do so much for us, and we need to save them!” said sophomore Corinne Franchette.
Next time you see a honey bee, what are you going to do?