Why Are Our Honey Bees Dying Out In The Uk?
Bees are disappearing, fast. The population of honey bees in the UK and in the rest of the world has dropped by around 70 per cent in the last 35 years and it seems that no one knows why our honey bees are dying out so rapidly. Why does it matter that our bees are dying out I hear you ask, honey bees just make honey right? Not so, a third of all food production in the UK and worldwide relies on bees for pollination. This means that without honey bees for pollination, many of our basic foodstuffs would not survive and the future of humankind would be precarious to say the least. Pretty scary stuff isn't it?
Honey bees are essential to food production, pollen sticks to their fuzzy bodies as they search for food and they carry this pollen huge distances, making sure that plants are successfully pollinated. Poorly pollinated plants produce fewer fruits and lower yields of seed and this in turn inevitably impacts on the quality, availability and price of food. A farmer can actually increase yields of crops by finding ways to manage bees and encourage good pollination. The destructive effects of the Varroa mite and the use of pesticides are just two of the things that mean conservation of wild bees is more important than ever.
So what exactly will happen if bees die out?
Commonplace foods that we eat every day, things such as apples, beans, tomatoes and onions, would die with them. No human activity could ever replace the work of bees and typically, we have taken them for granted and it is only now that we are starting to appreciate exactly what they do for us - they allow us to eat and to survive.
As part of Plan Bee, a film was recently commissioned and released called Vanishing of the Bees, which documents the difficult plight of our honey bees. The fact that a film has been made and shown in cinemas across the world highlights just how important this subject is - the need to save the bees is really gathering momentum but is it too little too late?
No, it's not - we can all help to save the bees by stepping up and taking note of advice from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) and large co-operatives who are taking their corporate social responsibility extremely seriously.