Bees are dying. Year after year we continue to see further decline of our vital pollinators. But why are bees dying out? And what can we do to stop it? Scientists have linked bee population decline to a variety of factors. Many of these are interconnected. Year after year, a large number of bees are dying off at an unsustainable rate. The consequences to our natural world will be astronomical if we lose these pollinators — rippling throughout our entire ecosystem.
Reasons why bees are dying
Bees are under attack. Nearly 46% of honey bee colonies were lost last year — and wild bee populations also saw drastic declines. There are over 20,000 species of wild bees, and sadly 1 out of 6 of these bees are already regionally extinct. Additionally, 40% of all bee species are vulnerable to extinction. Dozens of bees are on the brink of disappearing forever!
So how are bees dying? Here are the top four reasons.
The rampant use of pesticides is reducing bee populations in droves. Even when applied according to the EPA’s guidelines, many pesticides impact bees. They can kill bees outright, reduce bees’ resistance to disease, impair their ability to navigate and reproduce, and impact the bee’s nervous system. Even if bees aren’t killed immediately, the other impacts affect bees’ ability to forage, feed, reproduce, and more — thus furthering their demise.
We’ve seen an increase in extreme weather from climate change. The intensity and frequency of these hotter and colder periods are disrupting bee behavior. Flowering plants that bees rely on for food are blossoming at different times from when bees are typically active.
The changes in the way our land is developed has caused significant loss to pollinator-friendly habitats. Bees are losing the food sources that they require for a healthy diet — enough flowers to forage and a safe place for nesting. One of the main contributors to habitat loss is intensive farming.
With weakened immune systems, bees are susceptible to viral and bacterial diseases. The two most common diseases that are impacting bees are Deformed Wing Virus and American Foulbrood. Deformed Wing Virus impacts a bee’s ability to fly. American Foulbrood virus prevents larvae from surviving to adulthood.
Why are bees dying in my garden
If you are finding dead bees in your garden, the first thing you should look at is what products you use in your yard. Do research on the products you apply around your house. If you spray a weedkiller — like Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup — you are spraying bee-toxic chemicals in your yard. Pesticides poison pollinators, which can lead to their death. Consider going chemical-free for bees. Your yard could be a safe haven for bees to forage and rest.
Other reasons bees are dying in your garden could include:
- Disease and parasites
- Predators to bees
- Injury from busy roads
- Bee’s age
Having a bee-friendly yard can help save the bees. Bees aren’t attracted to perfectly manicured grass that is riddled with pesticides. Instead, they prefer clover, dandelions, and wildflowers. The more you consider bees with your lawn care, the more you can help save them from dying in your garden.
Bees are vital to our planet
Our pollinators are in crisis. Scientists year after year note significant bee die-offs due to the factors listed above. But without bees, our planet would be drastically different.
Bees are a keystone species. This means they play an important role for the entire ecosystem. Many other animals depend on pollinators. Plant-eating animals eat the plants that pollinators pollinate. Animals who are carnivores eat the animals that eat the plants. If pollinated plants disappeared, so would the animals that depend on them for sustenance. If those animals disappeared, so would the carnivores that depend on them.
Why are bees so important to humans
Bees are critical to our food supply. They pollinate a third of the food that people depend on. Apples, oranges, almonds, pumpkins — bees are responsible for so many bites! But bees don’t stop there. They also help pollinate plants that are used for medicine, and they produce honey.
Why are bees so important to the environment
Bees are an important pollinator. Over 90% of wild flowering plants need animal pollinators like bees. Without bees and other pollinators, these plants will decline. This will impact the entire ecosystem. Biodiversity is promoted by bees. They provide food for many animals on the planet — and promote a sustainable ecosystem.
So many parts of our ecosystems depend on the bees.
How to stop bees from dying
As such a vital part of our world, rapid action is needed. We know that bees are dying at unprecedented rates — but how do we stop it?
Tackling the problem alone will not get us very far. Instead, we need support from concerned activists around the country. Can you commit to going chemical-free for bees? What about shopping at retailers with firm pollinator health commitments? Those are great places to start.
You can also become actively engaged with Friends of the Earth. When you use your voice, amplified with other voices throughout the country, we can make change for the better! We need you to join us and use your voice to go up against pesticide giants that are pushing pollinator-toxic products for the sake of profits. We need your help to push retailers to get bee-toxic pesticides out of their supply chains. And we can band together to tell our elected officials to protect bees and the planet by banning toxic chemicals.
But we cannot do it alone. Sign up for the Friends of the Earth email list and become an engaged member to help us save the bees from dying.