President Obama Committed To Saving the Honey Bee

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – President Obama is intervening on behalf of the bumblebee: the White House has announced the first National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. This is a plan outlining how to save bees along with other small winged insects, animals and their breeding grounds, as this insect’s habitat dwindles in the US. Scientists say this action is critical to help sustain many American crops, as there is a sharp decline in bee colonies, which has been described by some environmentalists as a potential ecological disaster. Without bees, there would be little food, as everything from corn to tomatoes to apples grow from flowers that need pollinating. Fast-declining populations of pollinators have been identified as a serious risk to global food production.

Overall, this strategy seeks to manage the way forests burned by wildfire are replanted, how offices are landscaped and how roadside habitats where bees feed are preserved. Scientists say bees have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease and pesticides. This federal plan calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens to do what they can to save bees, which provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy, according to the White House.

There are demands for restoring seven million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Many federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat, because scientists believe that large land tracts that grow only one crop have harmed bee nutrition. However, the action is not just for the Department of Interior, which has vast areas of land under its control, but for all agencies to be involved, from Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Transportation, who will all have to include bee-friendly landscaping on their properties and in grant-making.

The government intends to spend $82.5 million on honeybee research in the upcoming budget year, which has increased by $34 million. The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been temporarily banned in Europe and will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until more research is done.

Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticide that acts as an insect nerve agent and are mostly used as a seed treatment – meaning the chemical pervades the plant, including the nectar and pollen on which bees feed. In Europe, scientific studies have linked neonicotinoids to serious harm in bees, which has raised fears that the pesticides are an important factor in the plummeting populations of bees, along with diseases and widespread loss of habitat.

Declines in honey and wild bees, and other pollinators are not unique to the US, as across the globe similar patterns of decline in wild and managed pollinator populations have been recorded. So the next time you see a bee buzzing around, remember that much of the food we eat depends on the vital ecosystem service that they and other pollinators provide. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia