[Photo by David Short via Flickr & Creative Commons 2.0]
“By Request” is a series of posts where I track down studies that answer questions asked by you, my blog’s readers.
High School Friend Elna asked: “Impending extinction of bees- what can prevent?”
That’s a tough question to answer, because some bee populations are at much higher risk than others. Domesticated honey bee numbers are actually growing, largely due to the large scale industrialized pollination companies, which bring giant swarms to farmers whose crops rely on bees.
Bees are an enormously diverse group that includes over 20,000 species, spread over 6 continents. (As far as we know, there are no bees in Antarctica.) Like other animals, bees can be vulnerable to habitat loss, changing temperatures, and pollution. However, bees do have one persistent problem that stands out: they keep getting caught in the line of fire when humans spray insecticides.
Well, bees are insects, after all.
However, bees are not equally vulnerable to all pesticides.
For example, when Ben Woodcock and his colleagues at the UK’s Natural Environmental Research Council’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology published a study which analyzed 18 years’ worth of data on 62 species of British bees, they found that some bee species’ populations are holding steady in the face of insecticides, while others aren’t.