Critical Analysis of an Online Source:
“You’re Worrying About the Wrong Bees”
"Save the Bees!" is a common refrain these days, and it's great to see people interested in the little animals critical…www.wired.com
The online article was written by Gwen Pearson in March of 2015 and posted on the Wired website. I believe this is a reliable source because the website is credible and the author included a list of sources. To briefly summarize before I go in depth, the article talked about the issue of how little attention is given to native bees, who need much more help than the famous honeybees.
The article begins by saying, “’Save The Bees!’ is a common refrain these days, and it’s great to see people interested in the little animals critical for our food supply around the globe. But I have one quibble: you’re talking about the wrong bees. Honey bees will be fine. They are a globally distributed, domesticated animal. Apis mellifera will not go extinct, and the species is not remotely threatened with extinction. The bees you should be concerned about are the 3,999 other bee species living in North America, most of which are solitary, stingless, ground-nesting bees you’ve never heard of. Incredible losses in native bee diversity are already happening. 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges in the last 100 years. Four of our bumblebee species declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three species are believed to already be extinct”.
The article then goes on to talk about a study done comparing the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees versus native bees. Honey bees weren’t affected by the seed treatments. The 80,000 bees in a honey bee colony create a strong buffering effect. Honey bee colonies can often take a pesticide exposure in stride. Native bees can’t. Wild bees were affected in a big way. The article says, “Wild bee density in the treated fields was half that of untreated fields. Bumble bee colonies grew more slowly, and produced fewer queens. Solitary bee nests disappeared from the treated fields completely”.
The article then calls honey bees slackers compared to native bees. It says, “The evidence is clear that many native wild pollinators are declining. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if commercial bees could pick up the slack. They can’t. Managed honey bee colonies supplement the work of natural wild pollinators, not the other way around. In a study of 41 different crop systems worldwide, honeybees only increased yield in 14 percent of the crops. Who did all the pollination? Native bees and other insects”.
Finally, the article talks about Ecological Homogenization. The author makes the argument that part of the problem for our native bees is our human desire for neatness and uniformity. People have to have pretty lawns, so they change everything about their environment and ruin it for the bees. Our conservation efforts are not enough. We can’t save the bees by conserving little bits of land here and there. We have to include space for them everywhere.