Why Are Bees Dying?

Our Bees Need Our Help!

So why are bees dying, and what can we do about it? There have been many ideas put forward as to why the native bees of the UK are dying, but none have been proven to be the underlying cause. Some are known to be contributory factors, and it is often forgotten that this is not a new phenomenon. In the 1950’s there were over 50 native species of bee in the UK, yet now there are just 25. The rest have become extinct in this country, and the number of non-native bees has increased. Many people have speculated that the invasion of alien species has hastened the demise of our own, and this is one possible cause of the decline of the UK bee.

Another problem that has been raised is that of the widespread use of insecticide and pesticide. Farmers spray crops with a variety of products designed to protect from pests, but it is believed that a number of these may also be killing bees. In gardens this can also be a problem where homeowners spray their flowers and vegetables with commercially available products, and refraining from using such products can be a good way of helping the cause.

Disease is also a proposed problem with bees, as there are certain mites that are known to spread disease among the bee population. Imaging one bee carrying mites back to a hive of thousands and you soon have a major problem. However, many bee-keepers have pointed to the sheer speed at which the numbers are declining and claimed that this possibility cannot be responsible for such rapid demise.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon first noticed in the USA whereby entire colonies of bees simply died out thanks to hitherto unexplained circumstances. It is also put forward as a possible cause but is dismissed by those in the know. One theory that does hold some water is the growth in genetically modified crops; bees, of course, love pollen and the theory is that modified pollens may be detrimental to the creatures.

Whatever the causes what we do know is that bee numbers are in rapid decline and some species are on the verge of extinction. Given that they are responsible for pollinating crops the loss of our native bees could be a national disaster. Experts say that a third of our regular diet would be affected, crops would fail in massive quantities and animals – both wild and domesticated – would be left without the foodstuffs they rely on.

By planting the flowers bees love, and by raising awareness of their plight, you can help save one of the most vital, and endangered creatures in the UK.