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BEES - AND WHY THEY ARE
VITAL TO SURVIVAL
Many species of bees are under pressure worldwide due
to infestation of mites / parasites or through contracting viruses. The bumble bee is seen more often nowadays, and there is no longer a constant Summer hum of bees collecting nectar and pollinating as they go. Climate change is one of the causes in the alarming drop in bee numbers in some places. Many people have come to think that the World may end due to rising sea levels due to
climate change. In fact, is it more likely that food shortage due to lower levels of pollination in food plants might bring a quicker end?
Please see the two following Reports on the status of the 'honey bee' and other varieties of bee.
ELEVEN REASONS BEES MATTER
29 Feb 2016
By Owen Gaffney Co-founder, Future Earth Media Lab.
We depend on pollinating insects like bees for the majority of food we eat; yet over 40% of the world's species face extinction.
These were among the findings on the first global assessment of
the state of the world’s pollinators which has been published following a week-long international meeting in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
The assessment, also the first from the new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), created in 2012, paints a
comprehensive picture of the decline in pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Here are 11 things you need to know about the falling bee population, and why it matters.
1. Almost 90% of wild plant species and over 75% of crops we use for food depend in part
on pollination by bees, butterflies and other animals. The report estimates the annual economic value of pollinators at $235-577 billion. The western honey bee is the most widespread managed pollinator in the world, producing an estimated 1.6 million
tonnes of honey annually.
2. Since 1961, the volume of agricultural production reliant on pollinators has increased 300%. Crops that depend on pollinators show lower growth and stability in yield than crops
that do not depend on pollinators.
3. Scientists are recording a decline in wild bees and other wild pollinators, particularly in north western Europe and North America. The
number of western honey bee hives has almost doubled in the last 50 years, but Europe and North America have seen “severe declines”, says assessment co-chair Simon Potts from the University of Reading, UK.
4. Over 40% of invertebrate pollinators (bees, butterflies, midges) along with 16.5% of vertebrate pollinators (bats and birds) are threatened with global extinction.
In Europe, there is evidence that 9% of bee and butterfly species are threatened – but “this is probably an underestimate,” says Potts.
5. Experts are concerned by the declines. The reasons for the fall in numbers include: intensive agriculture, pesticide use, pollution, the arrival of species from different parts of the world, disease, the use of genetically modified crops and climate change.
Researchers report that in lab tests, high doses
of pesticides such as neonicotinoids and pyrethroids can be lethal to pollinators.
But also, mass breeding and transportation can spread diseases, while devoting vast swathes of the land to just one kind of crop creates poor habitats for pollinators.
6. There are several ways to improve life for bees and butterflies. Instead of focusing on agricultural intensification, farmers could think more about ecological intensification – that
is, farm for healthy diverse ecosystems, which will also be good for farming. Creating wild corridors to connect islands of wildlife across farming landscapes will
also help. Improving standards of risk assessment for pesticide use, and improve instructions for use.
7. The researchers found that indigenous
knowledge can provide solutions to dwindling numbers of pollinators. IPBES has gone further than any other major scientific assessment to assess knowledge from indigenous people, industry, farmers and others, alongside the scientific knowledge.
8. The risks facing bee populations and other pollinators is
just one of the many threats to Earth’s biodiversity and to the biosphere – the region of Earth where life exists. Many experts say we are losing species at mass extinction rates as a result of human pressures. In Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, there have been five previous mass extinctions. The last one, 65 million years ago, ended the reign
of the dinosaurs.
9. IPBES is now working on assessments of biodiversity in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. It also plans a global assessment, which will include
an assessment of the state of life in the oceans.
10. Cultural diversity and biological diversity are closely linked – Earth’s hotspots for rich species diversity tend to coincide with a high
density of languages.
11. Even though IPBES’s assessments are about establishing a consensus on the current state of knowledge on a subject, and the final summaries for policymakers are negotiated by governments, governments
have no obligation to act on the findings.
Worldwide importance of honey bees for natural habitats captured in new report.
Date January 10, 2018
Source University of California - San Diego
Global synthesis of data reveals honey bees
world's key pollinator of non-crop plants.
An unprecedented study integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world's most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor
to natural ecosystem functions.
The Report weaves together information from 80 plant-pollinator
interaction networks. The results clearly identify the honey bee (Apis mellifera) as the single most frequent visitor to flowers of naturally occurring (non-crop) plants
An unprecedented Study integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world's most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions. The first quantitative analysis of its kind, led by biologists at the University of California
San Diego, is published Jan 10 2018, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The Report weaves together information from 80
plant-pollinator interaction networks. The results clearly identify the honey bee (Apis mellifera) as the single most frequent visitor to flowers of naturally occurring (non-crop) plants worldwide. Honey bees were recorded in 89 per cent of the pollination networks in the honey bee's native range and in 61 per cent in regions
where honey bees have been introduced by humans.
One out of eight interactions between a non-agricultural plant and a pollinator is carried out by the honey bee, the Study revealed. The honey bee's global importance
is further underscored when considering that it is but one of tens of thousands of pollinating species in the world, including wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths and other bee species.
"Biologists have known for a while that honey bees are widespread and
abundant - but with this Study, we now see in quantitative terms that they are currently the most successful pollinators in the world," said Keng-Lou James Hung, who led the study as a graduate student in UC San
Diego's Division of Biological Sciences. He's now a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University.
Honey bees are native to Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe and have become naturalized in ecosystems around the world as a result of intentional transport by humans. While feral honey bee populations may be healthy in many parts of the world, the researchers note that the health of managed honey bee colonies is threatened by a host of factors
including habitat loss, pesticides, pathogens, parasites and climate change.
"Although they appear to have a disproportionate impact on natural ecosystems, surprisingly we understand very little about the honey bee's ecological effects in non-agricultural systems,"
said study co-author David Holway, a professor and chair of the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution in Biological Sciences. "Looking to the future this study raises a lot of new questions."
For instance, in San Diego, where honey
bees are not native, they are responsible for 75 percent of pollinator visits to native plants, the highest honey bee dominance in the set of networks examined for any continental site in the introduced range of
the honey bee. This is despite the fact that there are more than 650 species of native bees in San Diego County as well as many other native pollinating insects.
"The consequences of this phenomenon for both native plants that did not evolve with the honey bee and for
populations of native insect pollinators is well worth studying," said Joshua Kohn, the study's senior author.
"Our study also nicely confirms something that pollination biologists have known for a long time: even in the presence of
a highly abundant species that pollinates many plant species, we still need healthy populations of other pollinators for entire plant communities to receive adequate pollination services,"
The reason for this, Hung noted, is that in
habitats where honey bees are present, they nevertheless fail to visit nearly half of all animal-pollinated plant species, on average.
"Our take home message is that while it's important for us to continue to research how we can improve the health of managed honey
bee colonies for agricultural success, we need to further understand how this cosmopolitan and highly successful species impacts the ecology and evolutionary dynamics of plant and pollinator
species in natural ecosystems", said Hung.
Materials provided by University of California - San Diego.
- Keng-Lou James Hung, Jennifer M. Kingston, Matthias Albrecht, David A. Holway, Joshua R. Kohn. The worldwide importance of honey bees as pollinators
in natural habitats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2018; 285 (1870): 20172140 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2140
Cite This Page
University of California - San Diego. "Worldwide importance of honey bees for natural habitats captured in new report:
Global synthesis of data reveals honey bees as world's key pollinator of non-crop plants."
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10
January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180110101005.htm>.
Fungicides a Threat to Honey Bees
Mar 21, 2017 — Fungicides commonly used in almond orchards can be harmful to almond growers' primary pollinator:
honey bees. According to new research, the fungicide iprodione, when used alone or in ... read more
Viruses Between Eastern and Western Honey Bees Are Rare
Apr 1, 2016 — Interspecific transfers of viruses between the western honey bee (Apis mellifera)
and the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) are rare, even if honey bees are kept in close proximity, new research ... read
How DNA and a Supercomputer Can Help Sustain Honey Bee Populations
Nov 13, 2015 — To uncover what plants honey bees rely
on, researchers are applying DNA metabarcoding to pollen analysis. A new method uses three loci to characterize pollen samples collected by honey bees. This ... read more
Urban Environments Boost Pathogen Pressure on Honey Bees
Nov 4, 2015 — Urban environments increase pathogen abundance in
honey bees (Apis mellifera) and reduce honey bee survival, entomology researchers have found. The finding raises significant questions as urban areas ... read more
The colouring of titles, headings, and text in the
above two Reports
was done by me, ICOB.