Bad News Bumblebees

Rapidly leaving their habitats in the south, they are not reappearing in the north

Bumblebees leaving and not coming back

A new research report published in the journal Science concludes that bumblebee species have declined rapidly, in a pattern that moves from south to north across both North America and Europe. This doesn’t mean they are moving north. It means they are disappearing in the south. In other words, leaving for good.

While the jury is still out on whether or not global warming is the primary cause of this slowmo extinction, virtually all independent researchers conclude that most species of bumblebees are in big trouble. The scientists will continue to debate the topic until there are no more bees, but it seems logical that a population crash that follows as south to north migration has something to do with climate change. The limit of the bumblebee range for many species is moving north at about 3 miles a year.

Other causes of the bee population collapse are as follows:

1. Pervasive use of neonicotinoid pesticides: These poisons are used extensively in the monoculture agricultural practices that go hand in hand with GMO crops and heavy use of nitrates. The large scale use of pesticides has been associated with Bee Colony Collapse Syndrome, a sad behavioral event which causes bees to forget how to get back to their hives. Or not want to. Pesticide manufacturers say their studies reveal that their products are not to blame.

2. Loss of habitat. The high value of industrial commodity crops also contributes to the demise of bees (as it does to the demise of monarch butterflies) because agribusiness has eliminated open areas which previously grew flowers. In some cases then, the disappearance of bees is due to simple starvation.

3. Parasites: The Varroa mite sucks the hemolyth of young bees, which not only affects their immune systems, it also transmits viruses. Global warming and pesticides are believed to impair the ability of bees to fight off these and other parasites.

The population of honeybees is about half of what it was at the conclusion of World War II.

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