The Growing Decline of Bee Population Due to Pesticides

Growing Decline of Bee Population from Pesticides


The Growing Decline of Bee Population Due to Pesticides

Bees are responsible for pollination of the vast majority of fruits and vegetables we consume, making bees the most economically important pollinators that bring the most agricultural value. The growing decline of honey bees are caused by a combination of several factors, including: an increase of pathogens and disease, poor nutrition, habitat loss and pesticide toxicity. What do all these factors have in common? They are all unequivocally, direct consequences of pesticide use in the agriculture system.

A specific class of pesticide used, called neonicotinoid pesticides, have been the leading culprit behind the unfortunate phenomenon within the bee population.* Neonicotinoids are a type of insecticide that paralyze and terminate insects as soon as come into contact. Similar to other types of pesticides, neonicotinoids are persistent in the environment. When used in farming, residues of neonicotinoids are easily spread through natural occurrences such as wind, evaporation, and rainfall. Neonicotinoid pesticides not only contribute to bee extinction, but a sweeping handful of aquatic organisms as well, through contaminated waterways and the ocean. Individual bees become poisoned by flying through pesticide contaminated fields on farms, but more commonly they are chronically poisoned by eating and drinking contaminated pollen and nectar over time. The small amounts of pesticide residue that the bees consume accumulate in their bodies, and make the bees sickly, diseased, and eventually die off. Although neonicotinoids are predominantly to blame for the toxicity levels in bees, all pesticides both directly and indirectly affect the decline of bee population.

Government agencies in the US, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in the EU, like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), are responsible for making action plans to protect the health of the environment and all species. In Europe, the top 3 neonicotinoids used in agriculture were banned in 2018 due to the horrendous studies proving their acute effect on bee extinction rates. While in the US, the EPA proposed to prohibit the use of neonicotinoids, but only set restrictions in a few states*. In certain regions in the world, extinction rates are much higher, where bee pollinator species are nowhere in sight. The most drastic example comes from apple and pear orchards in China, where pollinating bees have been extinct for years due to excessive pesticide use. In these regions farmers are forced to hand-pollinate their trees for fruit production. The conversation is long overdue when it comes to the the lack of concern of the impact that pesticides have on our planet’s life and environment.

So what can we do to help save the bees? Driving conversation and spreading awareness within your community is the most practical and compelling way to contribute. Getting involved with your local garden spaces, farms, and parks will help increase pollination and bee development as well. Volunteering and donating to organizations with eager initiatives that advocate bee life is also going to be make a large impact. Pollinator Partnerships, Save the Bees, The Bee Cause, Friends of Honeybees, and Urbanbees are all examples of world-wide programs that are working hard to help the pollinating species. You can even sponsor a hive through one of the many outstanding projects of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) organization, located in New York City. Being a part of the striving efforts to save bee population comes hand in hand with advocating for less toxins used in agriculture. Encouraging your loved ones and your neighbors to stay informed and aware of the detrimental effects of pesticides will help create a future of toxic free living for all species.