For much of the past ten years, beekeepers, primarily in the United States and Europe, have been reporting annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher, substantially more than is considered normal or sustainable. In fact, one in four wild bee species in the U.S. is at risk of extinction.
Bees exist in all types of climates around the world, from forests in Europe to deserts in Africa–even in the Arctic Circle. Unlike honeybees and their hives, wild bees in the U.S. live in many different places: under the ground, in holes, and in trees.
- 90% of plants need bees to pollinate
- Pollinators contribute $577 billion to world economy
- Bees are a Keystone species, other species rely on them
Why They Matter
- If bees die off it would end most of life.
- Bees are indispensable pollinators of most ecosystems. There are 369,000 flowering plant species, and 90% of them are dependent on insect pollination. Usually, a honeybee can visit 50-1000 flowers in one trip. Therefore, if each bee takes ten trips a day, a colony with 25,000 forager bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in a day.
- Many species of animals depend on bees for their survival because their food sources, including nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits, rely on insect pollination. Pollination not only makes food available for other organisms but also allows floral growth, which provides habitats for animals, including other insects and birds.
- The global crop production pollinated by bees is valued at $577 billion. Pollinators contribute $24 billion to the U.S. agriculture industry, making up a third of the food consumed by Americans.
- Use of Pesticides and Neonicotinoids and GMOs
- Climate Change
- Loss of Habitat including land use changes, habitat fragmentation, loss of bio-diversity
- Bees forced into service – monoculture
- Worldwide, bee populations are in decline: the loss of honey bees due to pests, diseases, viruses, monoculture, mold and other factors has been widely publicized in recent years.
- Many of our wild native bees are also disappearing. For example, in the mid-1990s, the yellow-banded bumble bee was the most abundant bumble bee in northern Wisconsin. Ten years later it made up less than 1% of the state’s bumble bees. In Oregon, Franklin’s bumble bee has likely gone extinct during the same period.
- Pollinators are a keystone species group; the persistence of many other species depends upon them. As pollinators disappear, the effect on the health and viability of crops and native plant communities can be disastrous
How to Help
- Support a ban on the use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoid pesticides
- Support the Endangered Species Act.
- Become a beekeeper and plant a bee friendly garden.