Friday, April 02, 2010
The Honey Bee is in Danger
Life has gradually become an obstacle race for insects like honey bees - they live by flying from flower to flower and return to their large family with pollen and nectar which they change into honey.
Poison, slurry and gigantic corn fields do not harmonize with the bees' need for a clean environment with lots of flowers, bushes, trees and various crops. The development of the industrial agriculture has created a visible distance between the flowers in the landscape, and the population of Danish bee-families have gone from ab. 200.000 in the years around 1950 till ab. 80.000 in these years. The work of honey bees from early spring till late autumn is of crucial importance for the diversity in the nature.
The honey bees are among the most important assistants for the fertility of the flora. Also for the hundreds of plant species which are used in farming, foresting and in the gardens are the bee- pollination of crucial importance. Crops like winter rape and clover are completely dependent on the bee-pollination. Also all plants which seed, like fruit trees, berry-bushes and other similar plants. Danmarks Jordbrugsforskning (research) has estimated that the Danish honey bee- pollination only in the agriculture and in fruit and berry-cultivation represents a value of at least 1 billion kroner. The EU-commission is more concrete in its evaluation of the good deeds of the bees when it's about money. According to EU the bees' work represents ab. three billion kroner a year. (in DK) At the same time is concluded that the value of the pollination of the bees and the following fertility is 30-50 times higher than the value of the honey-production which in Denmark is ab. 60 million kroner a year.
The industrial agriculture has meant that the fields grew larger and larger. Stone-fences, earth banks and lots of hedgerows disappeared, and the distance between the small uncultivated oases for the flowers and bees grew longer and longer.
The verges and ditch-edges were once a study in a diversity of flowers which were good for the honey bees and other pollinating insects. Today are only few plant-species in those places. The heaths are attractive for the bees, but they are now in a crisis, caused by nutrient-rich precipitation. The nitrogen gives several grass species good living conditions at the expense of the heather.
The honeybee and all other pollinating insects lost terrain when 117.000 hectare fallow fields were ploughed and cultivated in 2008 - an area the size of the island Lolland simply disappeared as a habitat for bees.
All in all - the honey bee, the bumblebee, the butterflies and other pollinating insects are in danger. Some species have already disappeared never to return. Fewer pollinating insects will effect us more than we imagine right now - also in our daily economy. Fewer vegetables, berries, fruit will empty our pockets! So it's best for all of us, if there are more uncultivated places for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.
Source: Natur og Miljø, Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, Nr. 1, Jan Skriver, Honningbien.
photo March 2010: stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan Foto