Save us before it is too late: beesAmy Walsh (Author) Published Date : Feb 27, 2016 18:34 IST
A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to the first global assessment of pollinators.
Bees are pollinating insects that are extremely significant for our ecosystems as a third of all our food depends on their pollination. A declining bee population around the world would simply be devastating for food production. One Cornell University study estimated that honeybees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S.
Honey bees appear to have their center of origin in South and Southeast Asia(including the Philippines), as all the extant species except Apis mellifera are native to that region. Notably, living representatives of the earliest lineages to diverge (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis) have their center of origin there.
There was a federal plan in place in America to make millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly to save bees and monarch butterfly population.
Marla Spivak, a MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight Professor and Extension Entomologist in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota, stated that research on bees has clear benefits to society: Bees are the most important insect pollinators of many fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers. Promoting the health of bees involves promoting the health and stewardship of our urban, agricultural and natural ecosystems.
However, the assessment, a two-year study conducted and released today by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), also highlights a number of ways to effectively safeguard pollinator populations.
The assessment, titled Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production and the first ever issued by IPBES, is a groundbreaking effort to better understand and manage a critical element of the global ecosystem. It is also the first assessment of its kind that is based on the available knowledge from science and indigenous and local knowledge systems.
Bees are important as hand-pollination requires labour and will turn out to be a costly affair. If the contribution of bees is taken into consideration, they contribute 265 billion annually, worldwide.
According to scientists, a combination of declining nutrition, pesticides and other disorders is affecting bee population around the world. The plan also calls everyone across America to contribute their bit to save bees that provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy.
There is a 90 per cent decline in monarch butterflies population that spend winters in Mexico s forest. The U.S. government is now working with Mexico to expand monarch habitat in this part of the country to improve the situation.
Bees are not limited to making only honey. These small creatures are vital to food production as they pollinate crops. Bees accompanied by butterflies, wasps, wild bees and flies help pollinating. Vegetables like zucchini, fruits like apricot, nuts like almonds, spices like coriander, edible oils like canola and much more come from pollination services provided by bees and other pollinators. The entire mankind depends on bees in more than one way.
Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security, said Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, Ph.D., co-chair of the assessment and Senior Professor at the University of S o Paulo. Their health is directly linked to our own well-being.
Without pollinators, many of us would no longer be able to enjoy coffee, chocolate and apples, among many other foods that are part of our daily lives, said Simon Potts, Ph.D., the other assessment co-chair and Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, United Kingdom. More than three-quarters of the world's food crops rely at least in part on pollination by insects and other animals.
Save us before it is too late: bees