I’m sure that you have all heard that honeybees are in grave danger of becoming extinct. Over the last decade, United States beekeepers noticed that their bees were dying at shocking rates during winter. This could have a dire impact on our economy, because bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion to our economy. President Obama recognized their importance and on Tuesday he unveiled the first-ever national plan to save our bees and other pollinators.
Last year, beekeepers reported losing more than 40 percent of their colonies. The bees are suffering from something known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD has no scientific cause and it is defined as a dead colony with no adult bees but with a live queen. Usually honey and other immature bees are still present in the colony. That’s not the only threat to bees though:
Since the 1980s, honey bees and beekeepers have had to deal with a host of new pathogens from deformed wing virus to nosema fungi, new parasites such as Varroa mites, pests like small hive beetles, nutrition problems from lack of diversity or availability in pollen and nectar sources, and possible sublethal effects of pesticides. These problems, many of which honey bees might be able to survive if each were the only one, are often hitting in a wide variety of combinations, and weakening and killing honey bee colonies. [Source]
Bees are not the only pollinators in danger; in the last two decades the Monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent.
To combat this problem, President Obama issued a memo last June that directed an interagency task force to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. This task force released a three-step plan today to ensure that our pollinators return to healthy, robust numbers:
- Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels.
- Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration.
- Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency will work together to create pollinator gardens across the country at federal buildings, as well as on private and public lands. President Obama also said that he will ask Congress to allocate more funding to the project.
President Obama said that we must all work together to make sure that our insects, birds, and bats are protected. You can help by planting a garden for pollinators at your house, limit your use of insecticides and if you have to use them, make sure you follow the instructions.
To find out more ways to save our bees, go here.
Featured image via Wikipedia