Wild bees are in decline and becoming more and more endangered, and studies show that in the not so distant future they could become extinct! In our last blog we discovered why bees are so important to other insects, animals, humans, and the environment. Therefore, if bees do become extinct it would be a huge world tragedy!
There are quite a few contributors to the endangerment of bees today...
Loss in Habitat
Bees need the the right plants and enough plants and flowers to thrive. They provide safe places to nest and forage among flowers, vegetation, soil and hedges. But over the last 80 or so years there has been a 97% decline in wild flower meadows, leaving little to nowhere for our wild bees to thrive.
The 2 main contributors to loss of habitat for bees are change of land use and farming.
Change of Land Use
We are developing more and more urban areas - building more houses, building more roads etc. and taking over wild land where there were plants and flowers that the bees would thrive in.
We are also taking over more and more of our wild land with intensive farming. Today we use around 70% of the UK total land just for farming. And modern intensive farming practices eradicate the natural parts of the landscape that would have provided a habitat for bees to thrive, such as traditional hay, wild flower meadows, hedgerows, trees and ponds etc.
Today there is little to no natural habitat left for bees to thrive.
With temperatures getting warmer and a shift in seasons, plants, flowers and bees are not in synchronisation like they used to be.
Warmer winters are disrupting bee behaviour and their nesting times, and shifts in the seasons mean that plants will flower at different times of the year than they used to. Bees therefore miss out of important plants and flowers that they would usually use for food, and in turn plants and flowers are missing out on being naturally pollinated by the bees.
Pesticides & Herbicides
Pesticides are designed to kill unwanted pests that would feed on our farmed crops, but our overuse and their toxic properties are proving to be very harmful to other vital insect and also bees.
Studies have shown that pesticides can impair the bees ability to navigate and effect their usual tasks such as foraging, homing and feeding. They have also shown that can severely reduce the bees breeding success and resistance to disease.
As we farm crops more and more widespread across the world, the more wild bees are drastically effected by these toxic pesticides.
Herbicides (weed killers) that are used in gardens, parks, roadsides, streets and verges can also be extremely detrimental to wild bees, as the toxic properties reduce the bees ability to forage plants for food. In turn plants again will miss out on natural pollination from the bees.
Honey Bee Keeping
As the number of kept honey bees rises more and more, we are seeing wild bees are being outnumbered and can be pushed out as they compete for pollen. This wouldn't be a problem if there were enough wild flowers, but because we have also seen a drastic decline in wild flowers, the wild bees are then left with nowhere to forage. While honey bees can be seen to collect a lot more pollen than wild bees, they are also a lot more efficient at returning all of the pollen to their hives, therefore are not as good at naturally pollinating plants as wild bees.
Kept honey bees can very well carry a lot of pests and diseases that can easily carry on to wild bees. There are two well known viruses, deformed wing virus and back queen cell virus, parasite and tiny mites, and also fungal diseases and pathogens commonly found in kept honey bees. When the kept honey bees forage on plants and flowers close to the honey bee keepers, the diseases can easily spread to the local wild bees and severely effect their health.
Kept honey bees and more common species of wild bees are now outnumbering the rarer species and winning them over, resulting in a tragic loss of biodiversity. And because each species of bee will pollinate their preferred species of plants, we are also seeing huge declines in various plant species.
With the combined effects of all these damaging factors, they can severely harm the bees health and can mean that they will not live for very long and not be very successful in reproduction.
We have some beautiful 'Save the Bees' products at LoveSoul...
All of our products are vegan and eco friendly! We also plant a tree and donate to charity with every item purchased!