To Bee or Not To Be: Why Bees Could Soon Be No More

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Please help to protect the wild bees – otherwise all could be dead in just ten years!

Are you concerned about the reasons for the death and extinction of wild bees and flying insects, and would like to help do something about it? I would like to stimulate thinking on policy actions, but also inspire people to build or sow flower habitats and put out nesting boxes themselves.

Did you know that the bumblebee is a wild bee? Or that almost all wild bees are loners with highly specific habitat needs? For various reasons, more than half of about 560 species of wild bees in Germany are on the IUCN’s Red List. Nearly 40 species are already extinct, and another 100 species are threatened with extinction or classified as endangered. The main reason for the decline is the loss of habitat, largely due to agriculture. There is a lack of nesting places and food.

The ecological and economic importance of bees in total is evidenced by the following figures: In a recent study, the value of insect pollination alone for agriculture is estimated at an annual 153 billion euros worldwide. In Europe, the annual value of pollination is more than 14 billion euros. This does not quantify the additional value of the pollination of many wild plants. What also of the insectivorous birds that feed on bees? Will they starve soon? And the amphibians too?

Besides habitat loss, other causes of bee endangerment include the use of environmental toxins (pesticides and insecticides) in modern farming, global warming, and even the spread of invasive ant species. It has been discussed whether electromagnetic waves from mobile phone towers could be a problem for bees too.

Studies have shown that electromagnetic waves influence bees’ navigation to and from their nests, and can destroy their ability to orient themselves, resulting in their deaths. There is still disagreement among scientists as to how electromagnetic radiation affects bees and what, if any, role mobile phones play in their declining numbers. Mass die-offs of bees have been recorded in previous centuries, which certainly were not caused by mobile technology. But according to new scientific findings published in German, electromagnetic waves from mobile phones may actually be the leading reason for bees dying today.

Researchers and policy makers are seeking ways to stop and reverse bees’ endangerment. Some scientists are developing new biopesticides that do not affect bees. In Germany there is now discussion to forbid pesticides in nature reserves.

The latest news from scientists is that if we do not act immediately, all wild bees could be dead within the near future. British scientists predict their extinction by the end of the century, but the Russian beekeepers’ union forecasts that all bees could be gone from Russia within twenty years. Recently, German scientists from the University of Hohenheim and National Museum of Natural History Stuttgart signed a resolution warning that without drastic action, all wild bees could be extinct in just ten years. If bees disappear, then 30% of human food sources will no longer be available either.

Please help to make this knowledge well known to everybody, and to help the wild bees in your own garden or balcony. More here: http://www.bee-leaks.com

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(Featured image: mining bee, Panurgus sp., in hawkweed flower. Credit gbohne, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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