Starting from the late 1900s, beekeepers have been noticing trends in declining honeybee colonies. This problem is termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and it results in a breakdown of the colony due to its insufficient maintenance. This “insufficient maintenance” is caused by several factors, the two most important ones being pesticides and habitat loss. Pesticides, particularly ones from the neonicotinoids family, are believed to have long-term harmful effects on bees by changing how they look for food. They become less attracted to certain flowers and over time, turn into less skilled pollinators. On the other hand, habitat loss occurs as grasslands and forests are being converted into monoculture farms, which produce only a single crop.
Why should we care?
Bees, along with other insects such as butterflies, wasps and flies, are pollinators. To put it simply, pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male to female parts of a flower. This step must be done before fertilization (the process that allows plants to reproduce) can occur. Without bees, we wouldn’t have a lot of the food that we enjoy so much, like apples, chocolate (!), and coffee (!!!).
What can we do?
There are several things we can do to save the bees. This includes buying organic food, building bee houses, and, my personal favourite, planting a bee-friendly garden. Gardens are great because not only are they filled with nectar and pollen (bee food), but they can also enhance your backyard and produce fruits and vegetables! Make sure to grow native plants as well as those that have attractive colours and scents, like lavender and thyme.
Whether you’re supporting less pesticide use, creating new habitats, or providing food for bees, you’re taking a huge step towards raising bee populations back to their ideal levels. In doing so, you’re increasing species richness and ensuring that we’ll have our favourite types of food for generations to come.