AsianScientist (Dec. 5, 2019) – I used to be terrified of bees. Now, I’m terrified when I don’t hear them any longer.
Bees have been named the single most useful insect on the planet. It isn’t hard to see why. In all my travels around Asia, I have seen their contributions to the world. Flowers are significant in every culture. Fruits dominate the Asian markets. People rely on vegetables and crops to feed themselves and their livestock. The bee’s handiwork is everywhere, and it will become a global problem if they ever go into extinction.
Bees are essential to sustaining the planet. They do more than just make the honey in our cupboards. I remember visiting the many cities in my own country and others. In every area, there are flowers. Urban and rural areas are decorated with them. I can never travel without seeing at least one flower. They are everywhere, and the workers who keep them there are not humans. Most often than not, bees take care of flowers more than people do. Of course, they do not pollinate them to brighten up a windowsill. They do it to survive. They don’t know just how important they are to flowers.
The flowers that bees benefit also bear the fruits and vegetables that are sold in markets and eaten in restaurants. Animals also rely heavily on the work of bees. Because bees are basically the source of all organic resources, they indirectly feed our families and help our economy grow. People thrive because of these tiny little creatures. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling, and this turn of events spells catastrophe for all.
The Royal Geographical Society of London has declared bees to be the most important living being on Earth. Even without humans, the world can still thrive if the bees live. Here’s the problem: We are killing them off slowly, and not many people are paying attention to that fact. It is as alarming as climate change.
I still remember that one movie about the bees. Even if Bee Movie had some questionable story plots, it does shine a light on the problem. It proves just how important bees are to the world. In the movie, the bees stop working on producing honey and taking pollen for flowers. This results in flowers all around the nation withering and turning dull. Without the bees, the parks turned grey and grim. In the end, the bees save the day by pollinating all the flowers they can. That’s great!
Now, how would the story end if the bees never decided to work again?
What if they couldn’t?
We should be alarmed. However, this reaction is not quite as popular. In fact, many people do not even care about the existence of bees. There is tendency for people to avoid addressing a problem until it is in front of them. Once they do see it, it may be too late.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is described as a fall in the number of bee colonies because of the deaths of millions of worker bees.
Let me give you a scenario. It is the year 2025, and the last 500 bees have made it to the headlines, “Bees on the verge of extinction.” Panic spreads like wildfire. Scientists begin a mass mating project to try and save the bees. People begin donating to foundations that promise to save the bees. Nations all around the world meet several times a year to discuss possible solutions to this problem.
A year later, the last bee dies. Flower fields have already begun to wither and die. The price of fruits and vegetables reach sky-high numbers. The fauna has grown weak, and the livestock have been dropping like flies. It’s a nightmare. Soon enough, all the food in the world is made in labs. No fresh fruits can be found on the streets, and those that are available are auctioned to the highest bidder. A bundle of bananas that could be bought from India are packaged in glass boxes. Mangoes from the Philippines become so expensive that children begin to forget what they tastes like. Flower markets are barren.
It could happen all in the blink of an eye.
CCD explains how without worker bees, queen and caretaker bees are left to starve and work on their own. The threats to these worker bees are things people rely on all the time. Insecticides are the most prominent threat in Asian countries. To keep pests away from farms, farmers use pesticides and insecticides that also kill or disorient bees. The bees either drop dead or are left unable to find their way back home.
Commercial fertilizers also threaten the survival of bees. Weed killers destroy flowers that the bees would otherwise feed on. The destruction of flowering plants, crops, trees or weeds spells danger for bee colonies. The fewer flowers can be found, the greater the chance of us losing our bees.
When bombs begun to drop from the sky during World War II, entire ecosystems were destroyed and with them, bees.
Losing bees would doom the Earth, and it will doom us humans. Unless we find a way to keep the bees alive and healthy, there is nothing left for humans other than a countdown. Here are a few suggestions.
Number one, beekeeping must be sustained and assisted by governments. Nelson Palispis, a beekeeper from the Philippines, advocates saving bees to keep the Earth healthy. “Beekeeping is directly proportional to saving the environment,” he says.
Saving the bees means caring for them. The only way they can be cared for is if people are aware of the adverse effects that the extinction of bees could present. Students like myself will be motivated to carry out research on bees and study ways to save them. New methods of keeping pests away from crops without threatening bees could be found, and the number of bees would skyrocket once again. Once every person is aware of this problem, more people will come to their rescue.
With some sacrifice, farming could become less harmful to bees. With a little effort, greater research into saving the bees could result in bustling flower markets until the end of time.
This article won first place in the Science Centre Singapore Youth Writing Prize at the 2019 Asian Scientist Writing Prize.
Click here to see photos of the the prize presentation ceremony held on December 4, 2019.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.