The windscreen phenomenon has now been theorised following years of research. The fall in numbers of bugs in Britain has now reached such a troubling extent that even motorists are noticing that their windscreens are clear of squashed flies, gnats, moths, wasps and our bees.
Honey, Bumble and Solitary bees are substantial pollinators, which we all depend on but are in severe demise on a large scale. What could possibly have contributed to this?
A shift in climatic conditions could affect every living creature in one way or another, but the effects are likely to be much more subtle over a longer period.
…..Current farming methods and monoculture?
The removal of biodiversity and plants to forage – poor nourishment equals sick pollinating insects and poorly bees.
……Is it down to Pesticides?
Our entire environment is spoiled by man generated chemicals. Pollutants exist in the atmosphere we breathe, the soil we use for growing crops and the water we drink.
From the use of a few millilitres in the garden to gallons in the fields, high risk chemicals are used ubiquitously and often without a thought. Identified nerve agents such as parathion, malathion, methyl parathion, diazinon & phosmet are a few named chemicals from the family of Organophosphates. Toxic neonicotinoid pesticides such as clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam will be banned from use from December 2013 for two years, but is this long enough? What are the residual affects in soil?
Honey, Bumble and Solitary bees are all highly sensitive organisms. They navigate by smell using their olfactory organs and seeing nectar rich flowers in UV light through composite eyes.
Lethal chemicals used in agriculture have a massive impact on the homing behaviour in bees; they disturb natural communication, have a direct influence on olfactory systems and bee immunity leading to colony disorder and eventually collapse.
Bees and insects are in dire need of our help – NOW! No more chemicals & No more habitat removal – two colossal factors killing our bees.
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Could I also daringly question current honeybee management practices?
It is a hard decision to make – the intervention and addition of treatments in bee hives may be vital for bee health, but we already know that chemicals disrupt bee behavior. Apiguard is used to control Varroa mites and has been known to disrupt the colony and in some very minor cases has affected laying queens. Fumidil–B contains Fumagillin and is used as an antibiotic against the Nosema pathogen – yet another abnormal substance tainting their ecological unit.
Other practices may also impact on bee health; Removing honey stores from overwintering colonies and replacing with sugar substitute surely denies bees of the necessary nourishment they need; Swarm control is a common method employed to prevent bees from leaving the hive – is this contributing negative effects on the natural gene pool?
I conducted a study a few years ago on Hygienic Behaviour of Honey bees. Here, we have certain colonies with genetic traits that naturally remove dead and diseased larval cells and larvae infected with Varroa mites. Actually, there are quite a high proportion of colonies which demonstrate this natural characteristic. Should we encourage swarming – to facilitate natural selection of healthy & hygienic bees perchance?
Modern beekeeping is intensive. Common practices of beekeeping use wooden hives with perfectly fashioned frames to provide easy access for the beekeeper and not necessarily the best option for honey bees themselves. I believe in taking beekeeping back to its roots. Next year I will be providing my bees with Skep hives situated in an organic garden using holistic practices in raising and caring for them.
Since writing this article, we have had a positive response from a agronomist based in Lincolnshire who is on national register of BASIS (certificate in crop protection). The feedback gives us more confidence in the farming industry than we had previously sensed. Coincidently, there is a genuine concern to farmers that pollinators are in decline. Since the 1960s and 1970s farming has become much cleaner through better legislation and improved knowledge of safe storage and application of chemicals to land. Lethal chemicals are continually being phased out for newer and safer products. The farmer’s view was well received and gave us some hope for the future of agriculture and nature working as one.
Notably, in a major speech on the 11 January 2018, the Prime Minister launched the government’s landmark 25 Year Environment Plan, setting out how we will improve the environment over a generation?
let’s wait and see . . . . .