Pollination is essentially what makes the Earth green. Pollinators, such as the honeybee, are imperative to maintaining the ecosystems that omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores live in. Today, as the human population grows and as the food supply diminishes, pollinators of all shapes and sizes need to step up their role; however, humans aren’t allowing them to do their jobs. With pesticide use almost as high as when DDT was being spread, pollinators are struggling to do what they need to do, and humans are suffering as a result.
The issue that has now presented itself that humans have faced since the beginning of time deals primarily with basic necessities which included food and shelter, but in this case, mainly our food source. Now, as genetically modified organisms become increasingly more common, the question of when will someone be able to eat is no longer posed; instead, in today’s society, people’s primary concerns are about money. A professor, named Charles Pellegrino, who researches honeybees claims that “the result [of an 80 percent reduction in honeybee populations] would be widespread famine and economic collapse” meaning that without honeybees, we’d be living back in the Neolithic Revolution times. Mass extinctions are inevitable, in fact, we are causing one right now, but with honeybees near extinction, the lack of this keystone species, all seven billion of the individuals inhabiting the Earth would be gone within five years. Dr. Pellegrino justifies his point by further explaining that “without the honey bee, Rome falls”. Pellegrino is capable of making a persuasive argument by effectively utilizing an allusion in which he refers to the greatest civilization in global history falling for unknown reasons. By the time the commonwealth realizes that the lack of honey bees are causing our own extinction, it’ll be too late, just like the Roman Empire.
The food supply of the world is amongst the largest problems that the human race is facing. There’s third world countries that are currently starving and then there’s first world countries in which people have a plethora available for their consumption. The significance behind pollinators can’t be justified enough as more of them begin to die during this time period. Richard Dolesh, a notorious author, can’t stress honey bee impacts enough.
He claims that with “one in every three bites of food we take depending on pollinators,” it’s time to start taking this catastrophe seriously. There would be an indirect impact from the honey bee extinction on human beings; some people, such as Pellegrino, even go as far as to claim that “earth’s carrying capacity for human beings would be reduced from twelve billion to six billion” which we are far past now.
The loss of such food won’t be immediate since most plants are capable of reproducing with other pollinators. However, native bees serve as a keystone species in which they spread pollen from one plant to the next and can even maintain the genetic diversity of such plants. It’s not all about human beings though despite most of us thinking the world was made for our own personal use. Mammals and birds alike will drastically lose biodiversity if native honey bees were to maintain this steady die-off rate that is being noticed now. Ted O’Callahan gave quite the report on bee impacts in 2008 stating that, the plants in which bees do pollinate “are a major part of the diet of approximately 25 percent of birds and mammals” which means that not only will human populations suddenly drop, there will be less food for one quarter of the world’s most prized animals.
With the entire world struggling to make ends meet because of the lack of money that they receive, losing an extra $24 billion from the United States isn’t something that would motivate them to go out and seek more cash. The world revolves on the dollar bill and once again, if there was no more honey bees pollinating agriculture, farming businesses would take a hit. Some companies are trucking semi-loads around the country to pollinate almond orchards alone.
The United States isn’t the only country that would end up economically collapsing as a result though.In Pre-Columbian times, before honey bees were introduced to the Americas via trade, the plants of the region had other means of pollinating which include wind pollination. The plants in Europe had adapted to always having honey bees around to do their work for them just as our North American plants have.
All in all, Europe uses honey bees as a means of producing higher yields in their farm goods although they don’t usually farm.
The economic value of these invertebrates can’t be stressed enough. There are some 4,000 species of wild bees in America alone which add an additional $9 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The USDA is already making an attempt to combat recent die-offs.
They have invested $8 million in five states to try to establish new habitats for the substantial decline in bee populations. With an additional $3 million designated for the Midwestern states, the USDA is now starting to realize everything that honeybees do for our economy. A total of $11 million is only a fraction of the estimated $9 billion that bees generate themselves but at least it’s a start. The USDA agriculture secretary understands the full value of these seemingly insignificant critters.
Tom Vilsack claims that “American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honeybee population” and that the Conservation Reserve Program is doing all they can do to restore populations. It’ll take quite some time to increase the bee community back to its prime of 6 million hives, but reversing the declining trends is just one way to bring the bee population back up to its full value.