Following the news that a group of pesticides known as neonicotinoids is harming honeybees and wild bees, New Zealand began ramping up its efforts for the preservation of bees.
The use of neonicotinoids has been recorded in New Zealand, although the Environmental Protection Authority says that it is controlled. The chemical has become a debated global issue and, already, researchers and environmentalists are pushing for its total ban, which is highly favored by EFSA.
Phil Lester, insect expert and a professor at the Victoria University in New Zealand says EFSA’s conclusion regarding the dangers brought about by neonicotinoids in bees are “concerning.”
In March, EFSA released the conclusion of its review backed by 1,500 different studies, stating that neonicotinoid’s risk to bees depends on the exposure route and type of crop, but the probability of a “high risk” exposure is definitely present. The effects include reduction of numbers in queen bees and damaging memory.
The dangers of the chemical have been raised before, but Professor Lester says that EFSA’s new analysis made it even more significant due to the fact that it has been by far the largest study conducted with simulations. However, he also believes that using pesticides is a “balancing act,” implying that New Zealand isn’t ready for its total ban yet.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Authority is still in the process of reviewing EFSA’s study and is still waiting for the risk assessments. A representative from the agency said that implications for New Zealand’s neonicotinoid use would be released once its review concludes.
The Threats to Honey Bees
Both Europe and the U.S. are struggling over a crisis sweeping the population of honey bees all over the world. Out of a global stock of around 80 million beehives in 2014, the most recent count estimated a decline of 10 million hives due to the “spring dwindle,” “the disappearing disease,” or what’s now being called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Scientists and researchers agree that CCD, the term used to describe the phenomenon wherein worker bees go missing, will not only cause a global shortage of honey, but will also decrease the production of blueberries, melons, strawberries, pears, apples, raspberries, and almonds.
Honeybees and other pollinators provide the world with billions worth of agricultural crops, which means pollinators play a crucial role when it comes to sustaining our modern food system.
Beyond the impact on growing food for the consumption of human beings, the declining population of bees would also spell disaster on other animals’ diets. Livestock is known to feed on clover, one plant that is primarily pollinated by bees. Overall, bees are responsible for the pollination of 400 agricultural plants and one-sixth of all flowering plants.
The Road to Bee Preservation
With the world in a mass panic over the decline of bee numbers, certain measures have already been applied by concerned citizens, particularly apiaries and bee farm owners. Organic farms have already started to provide forage as food for bees, and nutritional systems such as BeesVita Plus from makers Healthy Bees LLC are helping against make bees more resilient against pests that could disrupt hives.
Bee preservation efforts also call for citizens to know the difference between wasps or yellow jackets from honeybees. There aren’t a lot of people who can tell and make the mistake of killing bees thinking they are pests. Environmentalists are also encouraging people to get the help of professionals should they find a beehive or swarms in trees instead of hurting them.
Petitions are also available for those willing to put a total ban on pesticides and help push more programs to promote bee preservation. The more people who sign, the more we can influence the masses to act and save the bees.