JUL 08, 2015 04:56 AM PDT

Finding Ways To Keep the Buzz Going

For years now, environmentalists, entomologists and other scientists have been watching the decline of the honeybee and warning that if left unchecked, many honeybee species could be in danger of becoming extinct, which would be a disaster for many crops.
A western honeybee resting on a flower. Recently several countries are attempting to slow the decline of the honeybee
Over 30% of the world's food crops and 90% of wild plants are pollinated and thus kept alive by bees. The reduction in the numbers of bees is already having an impact on crops and plants and experts advise that it will only get worse if something isn't done.

In the United States, scientists from the US Dept of Agriculture are looking into the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. While the cause is unknown, a colony that has fallen victim to this has no live adult bees, except for the queen and some immature drone bees that do not reproduce. Sometimes honey is present, but the colony is not sustainable. Pesticides, invasive fungi, viruses and destruction of bee habitats are all possible reasons for CCD, or it could be a combination of these factors and others that have lead to the devastation of so many bee colonies. In a press release, Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, said,

"We know more now than we did a few years ago, but CCD has really been a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and the best I can say is that a lot of pieces have been turned over. The problem is that they have almost all been blue-sky pieces-frame but no center picture." Pettis had previously been the lead researcher on the USDA's Agricultural Research Service investigation into CCD.


The problem exists in Europe as well. The EU has banned three specific pesticides that contain neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) but this ban is due to expire at the end of 2015. European farmers reported a dramatic increase in pests and had to use older pesticides that had harmful human side effects and were not as efficient. France has extended the ban on these pesticides because farmers believe that the neonicotinoids not only kill bees directly, but also weaken their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to viruses and infections from other countries.

Most recently, there was a research study done in the UK that mapped the DNA of bees by capturing a variety of the insects in different locations, extracting their DNA and combining it in a kind of "bee soup." This combination was then entered into a DNA sequencing program and compared with existing examples of bee mitochondria so researchers could see where bees were declining and which specific species were at risk. It's much faster than the traditional methods of having to collect bees and examine them under a microscope. It's also more accurate.

As more countries attempt to figure out why bee populations are declining, more efficient monitoring methods are going to be needed. For now though, it seems that bringing back the bees is a priority for many governments and that often means more regulation, more study and more controversy over what exactly the cause is and how the decline of the bee species can be halted.

Check out the video below for more information on how France is approaching the issue



Sources: Science Daily, Euronews
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
JUL 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 10, 2018
Spiders May Use Electric Fields to Go 'Ballooning'
Spiders are known for having eight legs, but as it seems, these arthropods can sometimes fly using a technique known to the scientific community as ‘...
JUL 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 24, 2018
These Animals Experience Harsher Childbirths Than Humans
You might be quick to think that humans have it hard during childbirth, but compared to a few other species in the animal kingdom, humans actually have it...
AUG 01, 2018
Videos
AUG 01, 2018
Goodbye to the Endangered Species Act?
The Endangered Species Act, which protects more than 2,000 plant, animal and insect species at risk of...
AUG 02, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 02, 2018
As Earth Warms, Soil 'Breathes' Harder
Temperatures are on the rise, and it seems soil will become another factor in how our climate changes....
AUG 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 06, 2018
Rising Oceanic CO2 Levels Inhibit Olfaction in Fish
Fish depend on olfaction for a plethora of things, including food discovery, predator evasion, navigation, and recognition. But what happens when fish sudd...
SEP 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 10, 2018
Does the Weather Impact Your Likelihood of Being Bitten by a Rattlesnake?
Venomous snakes, especially rattlesnakes, sport a somewhat salty reputation for biting humans when threatened in their natural habitat. Another frequently-...
Loading Comments...