Bees are Critical To Human Survival – Yet Another Victim of Climate Change

Most people have heard for more than two decades that bee populations have fallen. There was even a Dr. Who episode that used that as a key factor in saving the earth – of course that pretended that many bees are aliens but it was still a widely known phenom.

Yet another catastrophic result of global climate change is the way peak summer temperatures in the U.S. and much of Europe rise about 90 degrees F.

So what? We have air conditioning, don’t we?

True, but bumble bees don’t and bumblebee larvae and adolescents can’t survive more than a short period over that critical temperature.

honey bee Image by Iupac from Pixabay
Image by Iupac from Pixabay

Bees – What Happened to Colony Collapse Disorder?

University of Guelph in Ontario researchers have finally narrowed the major cause of the drop in bee populations to this increase in global temperatures.

While you and certainly I have probably never heard of the University of Guelph, it is, in fact the world’s major center for research into bees and training both beekeepers in Canada and bee scientists (melittologists).

Colony collapse disorder was not an explanation of anything, just the name for the phenomenon first named in 2006 rather than any actual explanation. If anything CCD was just another way of saying honeybee populations are decreasing.

Bees – Critical to Human Survival?

Many food experts say bees are absolutely critical in feeding billions of people since they pollinate 75% of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of crops.

That includes not only food, but trees, flowers, and other growing things which contribute greatly to absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

That, of course, means that as bee populations die we will be able to grow less food unless we rely almost entirely on artificial ways of triggering pollination-type reactions such as some hormone-like sprays that work on small tomato and squash gardens, or we accept that most food plants today are already genetically modified in one way or another, either over centuries on farms or weeks in a laboratory.

Bee Population Collapse – Possible Alternatives

Re-engineering plants that currently require insect pollination is one way to mitigate the threat.

Another might be to genetically modify major bee populations to make them more disease resistant (honeybees) or less sensitive to heat (bumblebees).

It is important to note that the results relating to heat killing the young are about deaths of bumble bees, not honey bees and, as far as I have been able to learn the major cause of hive collapse is still unknown.

Our Research

The University reports multiple causes for honey bee deaths, “The current research in our lab is a response to the high mortality rates of honey bee colonies. On average, more than one-third of the honey bee colonies in Ontario and Canada died over the past 13 winters. Factors that affect their health include pests, diseases, parasites, pesticides, climate change, and land use practices”

Climate Change Threatens Global Food Security