Bees have become endangered for a number of reasons such as the increasing use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids, use of flashy ornamental hybrid flowers, but little to no nectar, and the introduction of non-native plant species into delicate environments –among many others.
A reason for bee endangerment specifically in Guanacaste is the use of molasses to compact the dirt roads. Molasses are a by-production of processing raw sugar cane. When used to compact roads, and especially during our sunniest season, the sun expels the sweet scent of the molasses, making bees fly in a haphazard –drunk– manner.
Nonetheless, introduced in 1985, commercial neonicotinoids like imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam became widely available as a way to protect crops from being destroyed by insects. Although neonicotinoids pose lower risks for humans, neonicotinoids never meant to hurt bees.
Bees tend to become addicted to pesticides since their chemical structure is similar to nicotine. The pesticide then attacks the bee’s central nervous system leading to memory, cognition and behavior impairment and being a major cause of colony collapse disorder, a 2019 Harvard Study showed.
Fortunately for the bees and us, neonicotinoids are now in the process of being illegal in certain countries. France became the first country in Europe to ban five pesticides that are killing bees and more countries are following.
What would happen if bees go extinct?
If bees went extinct, there would be a massive decline in the production of crops. Bees are responsible for one-third of our food production. 78% to 94% of flowering plants require pollination by animals like bees, hoverflies, and butterflies. The list of crops that bees pollinate is endless. Have a look at it yourself.
The eventual decline of bees will bring a series of setbacks in many areas, from increased drought to serious land erosions…but it is not too late to help our local honeybees and wild bees.
Keep in tune for next week’s blog post from the series Architects for Bees.