What would be our world without our little yellow and black buddies? It is said that without them our world as we know it will die. But not exactly! We have nearly 20,000 species of bees but only few are “honeybees”. The great misconception of people is that they believe bees to be a uniform group, but honeybees are kept in hives and cultivated for their honey and sold as mere commodities, while the majority of wild bees help in pollination globally. In 2015, an article appeared in The Economist, addressing the issue of Bee decline around the world and we wonder what is at stake?
Published in Nature in 2015, it is estimated that 80% of the pollination is done by only 2% of bee species. Which makes us wonder! It has been reported that vast die-offs in or sudden abandonments of honeybee hives are happening globally. The term used to describe this phenomena is ‘colony-collapse disorder’. The question is why? Studies show that the most probable causesare intense farming, the spreading of bee diseases and use of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. Many do not realise but we actually need these little soldiers. Their contribution to our everyday life is far greater than we can imagine. All the staple crops such as rice, wheat and maize which all together count as two third of the food we consume, are pollinated by wind, not insects. The other one-third? All the fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee and chocolate are pollinated by our little bees. Can you guys imagine a world without chocolate? Definitely NOT!
It is not new that humans brings in their own destruction. The problem is that the honeybees are viewed as commodities and not as insects. They only have a market value in the eyes of manufacturers and the restrtiction imposed on their habitat causes a problem. Farmlands are stripped of all except cash-crop plants and when these are not in bloom, our little pollinators have no flower plants to work on and no place for them to roam about. Since they are viewed as a mean of production, it’s not surprising that they develop diseases. Since they are shipped around the word, the spreading gets easier and parasites such as the varroa mite, which have been given much attention as they are suspected to be the cause of colony-collapse disorder. In addition, a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids, mixed with other plant treatment can prove to be deadly to the bees. All of this for the sake of providing food to the human population. The radical solution used by manufacturers to produce more for money and not because the world needs food is proving itself to be detrimental to the environment and corrupting the survival of our future generation.
As a matter of fact, this is the situation worldwide but what about our dear Island? Hopefully, ELI Africa has its own ELI Forest and beekeeping is being done there. However, this is not enough. We need your help as well. Without bees, a lot will be lost.
Therefore, let us all spread the word and together, let’s protect the future of bees in Mauritius.