Bees -- whether wild or managed --are integral to the production of the world's food supply. But as populations continue their steep decline, the crops that rely on pollination could become more scarce and even cease to exist in the future, according to scientists.
The honey bee population decreased 40% in the winter of 2018 to 2019 alone, and the annual rate loss for the 2019 to 2020 winter was also 40%, declines that experts described as "unsustainable."
A large proportion of what we eat relies to some extent on pollinators. An estimated 87% of angiosperms, or flowering plants, are reliant on pollinators, while around 75% of those are crops that rely on pollination. The commercial production of more than 90 crops relies on about 3,600 bee species. Some of the crops that rely most on pollinators include almonds, blueberries, pears, apples, cherries, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli, corn and soybean.
Conservationists and scientists who study food security are concerned about how the downward trend of bee populations will affect food supply going forward. The top stressor on pollinators is the lack of habitat and floral resources, mostly in urban and suburban areas.
Anyone with a plot of land or even an apartment balcony do plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Homeowners hold off on mowing their lawns too often to encourage wildflowers to grow.
It is necessary to reduce the use of pesticides and mitigate climate change, which can cause plant pathogens to infect crops at higher rates.
Lastly, beekeepers need to meticulously manage their hives, which can spread disease to wild bees if not monitored correctly.
Adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, help the bees, help yourself, help the planet!