Whats happening to the bees and how will it affect us?
Millions of insects are going extinct before we even have a chance to catalogue them and the great insect die off is also affecting bees.
Bees are the most important pollinators for our food and without them, we would not be able to grow enough food to feed our growing population. This is not alarmist nonsense, it's real, it's critical and it's in our own hands.
Between April 2015 and April 2016, beekeepers in the United States lost 44 percent of their colonies and in the UK, beekeepers reported losses of almost 17 percent, according to the British Beekeepers Association.
Honeybee colonies for example, are dying are at astonishing rates. 29% of colonies died in winter of 2012-13, with summer losses also high at 9.7% in that year. These are clearly unsustainable losses and the situation will fast become critical. Many other pollinators are also declining and it's a phenomenon seen throughout the industrialised world.
Why is this happening?
The range of threats to our pollinators is daunting in it's scope.
Habitat loss through urbanisation and intensive agriculture, a huge increase in the use of pesticides and the harmful effects of particular types of pesticides like neonicotinoids, invasive diseases and species, as well as climate change, are all partially to blame.
How will affect us?
Having a strongly bio-diverse natural habitat is good for all of us. It's good for our mental and physical well-being. This has been well proven in a range of studies and there are now calls for doctors to prescribe time in the natural world to treat depression and other mental health issues. It's no suprise to me personally that the loss of unmanaged spaces in the UK has coincided with a huge rise in mental health issues in the population.
This is just one effect of habitat loss though. If we lose our pollinators, our food security could also be at risk, even in this globalised world. Pollinators are relied upon by farmers to pollinate crops that we need to feed our people. Bees pollinate 70% of the food we eat. The situation is serious.
What can be done?
As with so many of the worlds problems, there isn't one easy answer. Government must get involved to regulate use of space and pesticides but more powerfully than anything, we must all reconnect with the natural world and encourage any and all wildlife. It really is imperative that we #bringthebeesback