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There is a terrible prediction
9985_141x141.jpg”If honeybees died off, then human beings would only have four years to live”. The terrible prediction is thought to have been made by Albert Einstein. Although we cannot claim who the prediction truly belonged to, the issue is by no means less urgent! It always seemed far from possible, however, the years of 2007 and 2008 saw a rapid decline in honeybee numbers in the United States of America and Europe, from 20% to 80%. Today the problem concerns Russia and the Asian countries.
Scientists say alleged causes of the tragedy can be environmental factors, the reduction of melliferous herbs, the use of chemicals in food production, bees’ diseases and the general weakening of the bees’ immunity. If today we do not start to take effective measures to preserve the honeybee, the world will face a lot of troubles, the main of which is the aggravation of food crisis.
To join the efforts of concerned people the World Save Bee Fund e.V. (WSBF e.V.) was registered in Germany in June 2009. The aim of the Fund is to prevent the mass death of bees and to preserve the global ecological balance of nature.
Together we can preserve bees and ensure sustainable development of nature, society and life on the planet as a whole.
Why should we save the bees?
A bee is the most important pollinator of almost all fruit and berry trees and bushes, vegetable and other food agricultural plants and also wild forest and meadow plants. All of them are bisexual, i.e. pollen doesn’t fecundate an ovary of its flower and so it needs pollen from other plants. Partially it can be done by human efforts, wind, water, some other insects (bugs, butterflies, flies). However they are not capable to achieve such mass pollination as bees. An average bee colony of 30 000 honey bees attend up to 2 million flowers a day. These are the only insects that have an indirect impact on biological variety of flora, fauna and production of many kinds of natural products. 30% of food consumed by a man are produced due to bee pollination. Bees’ work is very important for animal husbandry as it’s impossible to get fodder without pollination.
According to the research in German and French universities, honey bees and other pollinating insects contribute to the world wide agricultural food production by 153 billion euros or 9,5% of the cost of all food products, consumed in the world. Bees’ disappearance can cause 350 billion euros of damage to the world. Though the total damage will exceed this sum significantly as it’s almost impossible to evaluate bees’ contribution to biodiversity on the planet.
Beekeeping products have the unique properties to restore functions of most human systems and organs. One of the most well-known beekeeping products is honey. It is considered the most useful food product. Honey was the only product mentioned in the most ancient historical monuments, ancient Indian myths, Egyptian papyrus, the Bible and the Koran. It is mentioned 40 times in the Bible alone. Other beehive products can also be useful – pollen, beeswax, propolis, beebread, royal jelly. As for bee venom, it has an amazing healing effect on a human body.
Moreover bees can clean up the products from harmful admixtures. Bees are used in ecological monitoring of local areas (for example, in 2003 Nuremberg Airport used hives in air quality control in addition to traditional methods).
What threatens the bees?
Like many other biological species bees suffer from diseases caused by external factors.
Bees’ diseases are dangerous primarily due to their ability to rapidly spread across the globe even before a proper cure has been found. The most devastating diseases for bee colonies are Varroa mites, Nosema, Acarine mites and American foulbrood. There are a large number of currently available treatments but they can only help in the event of fast and reliable diagnosis. In case of a neglected disease, bees, like humans, cannot survive and hence entire colonies die off.
Evidently, however, human beings are regretfully the main enemy of bees. Scientists believe that the decline in melliferous plants is due to widespread use of agricultural chemicals in food production and use of pesticides. Despite being extremely toxic for bees according to the opinion of some scientists, pesticides and insecticides have long been used in developed countries. A number of European countries banned the pesticides over the recent years. Albeit the world has become a global village and beekeeping problems cannot be dealt within each particular country. Any problem is instantly spread across country borders and over continents. Some theories claim that the negative impact on bees is also caused by global warming, electromagnetic emission of power transmission lines and mobile communication stations, and production of genetically modified goods.
All the factors (or at least some of them) led to a horrific phenomenon that was recognized as bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) in 2006. The disorder results in all worker bees abandoning their hives unexpectedly. Bees existed millions of years before the arrival of a human being. That time span allowed bees to have excelled in navigation to such a degree that humans can only rival them with complex devices. Therefore, bees’ loss of orientation may be explained by an exceptionally violent human interference into the nature’s balance.
There are various theories on reasons for CCD. A number of studies and tests have been carried out. However, there are still no definite answers to all the questions. The impacts of each of the potentially dangerous factors on bees’ life have not been studied fully.
How to save the bees?
WSBF draws public attention to the problem of bees’ disappearance and natural disbalance as a result.
Today this problem interests scientists and beekeepers only, but if there are more people engaged in solving the problem of necessary balance between the interests of forestry and agriculture, it would be easier to solve the problems of bees and beekeeping, the world would become more ecological and secure. Saving and developing the beekeeping guarantees prosperity of both forestry and agriculture in perspective.
Global beekeeping monitoring, worldwide efforts to prevent bees’ diseases and large-scale specialized measures to control the health of honeybees are required. Such efforts will allow to collect statistical data and to have updated numbers of healthy and diseased bees to take relevant steps globally.
Special attention should be paid to the support of scientific researches and development in beekeeping. It’s necessary to widen researches concerning bees’ diseases and pests, to develop new effective technologies to help bees. All pests work out the resistance to used treatments hence this work shouldn’t be stopped.
Promotion of beekeeping is vital. Unfortunately, the young know little of hard albeit noble and important work of a beekeeper. Proper promotion may attract a large number of young people to start their beekeeping business or to learn a new profitable hobby to supplement their full-time work. After all, keeping bees means living in the wild, being away from pollution, stress, hustle and exhaustion of a city life. Apart from that, protection and development of beekeeping guarantees flourishing agriculture and forestry for many years to come. It is important to deliver a message that one cannot saw off the bough on which one is sitting for the sake of an instant boost of harvest and a short-term gain.
Children should not be neglected when promoting beekeeping. Comic books, cartoons, and computer games with bees as characters will help children understand the importance of bees and the nature’s balance at an early age.