What's happening to the bees?
Lesson created by Ignasi Bartomeus using
Video from bartomeuslab YouTube Channel
Ignasi Bartomeus, a researcher at EBD-CSIC, explains what's happening to the bees and what we can do to help.
Additional Resources for you to Explore
If you want to explore bee diversity, you can find astonishing photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/collections (US); https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/collections/72157631518508520/ (UK). This is another cool video about the life of a solitary bee: https://vimeo.com/139146358. Bumblebees are an iconic bee group. You can learn more about them here: http://savethebumblebees.com/ (USA) and http://bumblebeeconservation.org/ (UK). If you want to make wild bee nests in your garden, it’s very easy, you have easy DIY videos for mason bees (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zaQzJxSheQ) and bumblebees (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYKAvRsS3uo). If you want to get involved in bee conservation actions visit: http://greatpollinatorproject.org/ (us) https://act.foe.co.uk/act/join-great-british-bee-count (UK).
We designed a series of open questions with no right or wrong answers but aimed to make people think about a complex problem. Why conserve biodiversity is a key question that policy makers, scientists and NGO’s ask themselves often. Utilitarian arguments based on the services that ecosystems deliver to us (e.g. the production of fruits, thanks to pollination) are one side of the coin, but conserving biodiversity per se as an ethical duty or for aesthetics reasons is a broader approach which does not exclude preserving species that are not directly beneficial to us.
There is a lot of sensationalism in media about what would happen if all bees disappeared. Luckily bees as a group are far from extinction, so the question becomes irrelevant and speculative. Nevertheless, some bee species are already extinct or near to extinction due to direct human impacts. Moreover, the observed lower bee densities in some areas will indisputably have both ecological and economical impacts.
Conservation plans are multifaceted. For a given species, conserving its natural habitats intact is the most efficient way, but, even in human-modified environments, like crops, minimizing impacts such as pesticides would help the few bees that can adapt to those habitats.
Finally, there is a lot of confusion about how to save the bees. Beekeeping benefits just a single managed species, the honeybee. Honeybee stocks are rising worldwide and are not even native to places like the USA. In fact, honeybees pose a risk to other wild bees as they may outcompete those for resources and transmit diseases. Having healthy beekeeping industry is ok, but the bees that really need you are the other 19,999 species.