Honey bees are flying insects that are close relatives to wasps and ants. They are found on almost every continent on the planet and play an essential role in pollination, or the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma to create seeds, which allows plants to reproduce and propagate their species. Greenpeace USA claims that “Seventy out of the top one hundred human food crops — which supply about 90% of the world’s nutrition — are pollinated by bees,” which means humans would find it nearly impossible to produce food if bees were to go extinct. But the irony of our situation right now is that honey bees are on the brink of extinction.
Although there are many reasons for the endangerment of honey bees, the top three are parasites, habitat loss, and cell phones.
The bee population faces a threat from two specific parasites: tracheal mites and varroa mites. Tracheal mites are endoparasites that feed on bees’ blood, which makes the bees more vulnerable to outside pathogens. They also reduce the capacity of airflow to the wing muscles, which eventually kills the bees. Varroa mites, on the other hand, live in the beehive and affect the young bees raised in it. Their infestation causes dangerous and often fatal diseases.
Honey bees need large trees to create their homes. As human beings continue to expand their cities and habitation, we cut down entire forests and force bees to relocate and adapt unnaturally. Hives that are built on buildings are often torn down due to false myths and irrational fear, which severely harms the bee population.
Bees are highly attracted to electromagnetic radiation. Cell phones emanate electromagnetic waves, which damage bees’ navigation systems and make it difficult for them to return to their colony. This causes their population to decrease in the long term.
Honey bees are crucial to the ecosystems of the Earth. “Save The Bees,” an initiative started by Greenpeace USA in 2009, has prompted many similar initiatives worldwide in an effort to protect the species. Even after a concerning drop in bee numbers in 2019, efforts made by beekeepers around the world have helped in propagating the species again. On an individual level, eliminating garden pesticides, eating organic foods, and donating to bee protecting initiatives are very effective actions that can be taken. With collaborative and consistent efforts, we can save one of the planet’s most important species!