The honeybee, Apis mellifera, is responsible for the pollination of flowering plants that make up roughly one third of the human diet (1). In total, the honeybee makes $200 billion worth of food globally (2). As important as these insects are, the honeybee populations are slowly dying off. However, there is not one clear cut answer as to what is causing the bee decline but there is a lot of buzz surrounding the problem. The first suspect is lack of flowers due to urbanization and destruction of natural habitat (1). Bees are able to adapt by searching for other types of flowers, but it can also lead them to gravitate toward flowers with pesticides or diseases (1). In a similar vein, climate change is also a contributor to the death of bees preferred flowers and disease caused by parasites because warmer temperatures are allowing them to thrive (1).
A varroa mite attached to the back of the honeybee
Source: https://beecare.bayer.com/bilder/upload/ 1
The final suspect is a specific type of pesticides called the neonicotinoids. These pesticides are known to linger in the environment and grow with the plant that it coats. In doing so, bees carry the nectar laced with the neonicotinoids back to the hive. The neonicotinoids have sickened both the hive and the queen bee which exert serious detrimental effects (4). The queen bee is responsible for reproduction in the hive but neonicotinoids have caused queens to produce less offspring and are overall weaker than a normal queen, according to a recent research article published by Nature (4). Due to the effects of neonicotinoids, two years ago, European Union banned the use of these pesticides to curb the declining bee population (5). Recent studies in the European Union have suggested neonicotinoids are not the sole cause of the decreasing bee population because the hive compensates for the loss by producing more offspring (5).
addition, the United States’ EPA also found inconclusive research that
neonicotinoids are the primary reason due to some hives being greatly affected
but did not affect other hives (2).In the United States, neonicotinoid use is
not banned, despite public outcry (1). The European Union as of 2015 lifted
their ban on the pesticide for an emergency application on oilseed rape crops
but still regulated by the EU commission (5).
Although both the United States and European Union want to help the bee population, inconclusive evidence and pressure from the agricultural industry
are permitting the use of the pesticide.
A farmer sprays the crops with a pesticide
Source: http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/Pictures/web/ 1