Pollination is an essential step in the reproduction of most plants and for transferring genes within animal populations.
As the human population has expanded, there are less natural habitats and pollinators have fewer options when it comes to places to live, while their current habitats are becoming unfavorable due to climate change.
A new global study published this July in Science showed that pollinators, especially bumblebees, are at risk of extinction due to climate change and the use of pesticides that intoxicate them.
With the rise of temperatures, and the bumblebees inability to migrate somewhere north where it’s colder, their existence is in danger and it is becoming more and more difficult for them to survive. Bumblebees are very important for almost all the crops (75% to be precise), and the extent of human dependence on them has become clear in the last couple of decades while their number was slowly declining.
We, humans, are very resourceful and we can make technologies for almost anything, but unfortunately we aren’t powerful enough to stop depending on nature, and if bees become extinct there is a great possibility that there won’t be food to feed mankind or animals, as there will be no one to pollinate the crops.
Understanding the severity of this issue, the U.S. government has invested millions into saving the pollinators, domesticated as well as wild. According to a recent research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley by Claire Kremen, it turns out that wild honeybees are much more effective when it comes to pollinating the crops than the domesticated ones, and they also seem to be more sensitive to this climate change.
As the mentioned study’s author and biologist from the University of Ottawa, Jeremy Kerr explains, bumblebee have originated in the colder conditions of the northern Palearctic zone and their bodies are not equipped for hot weather. Also, bees take time to colonize and procreate, as they forage in spring and summer, and when summer comes to an end new bees are born – males and queens.
Climate change disrupts this process, which leads to an inability to create colonies because new bees cannot be born in this heat.
Kerr, alongside his team of researchers, believes that humans could assist the bees by helping them migrate to a place where the climate is a little colder and more suitable for their species. He stresses the importance of this action being performed now, not some time in the future, but this kind of decision needs to be seriously considered, especially since it will cost a lot of money.
Bee populations are declining significantly due to the increasing warmth and this situation is asking for special attention, especially due to the role bees play in the ecosystem.
Without the bees and the pollination of crops and animals, human lives will be threatened as well. Alana Pindar, a researcher from the University of Ottawa, explains that with reduced crop pollination, crop yield for some species will also be reduced which will make it difficult for the crops to grow well.
Assisted migration may be the best solution for this problem, but the cause of it should also be taken into consideration and solved if possible. As Kerr suggests, greenhouse gas pollution is one of the precursors for climate change, so in order to make things better it needs to be reduced. Hopefully, some actions will be made soon and bees will be saved from extinction.