Girl At Farm

A Way to Bee Informed

 I spent most of my childhood outdoors and in gardens. As soon as all of the snow melted, my entire family would help prepare the garden in some shape or form for springtime flowers and summertime crops. We each had our own role: my father would tend to the garden in the beginning, my sister would help plan out what to plant and where to put it, and I assisted my mother in clearing the weeds, digging holes and planting the flowers. One of my earliest memories is helping my mother in her garden. I remember sitting on one of the steps leading up to the garden gate, picking worms from the dirt. As I held them in my hand, I would present each worm with a name. After, I would place the worm in my makeshift worm farm.  

A worm is known as an indicator species. An indicator species is loosely defined as a plant or animal species that can be used to determine the qualitative state of a habitat.  It is simple: the more a habitat is abundant in indicator species, the healthier its environment. For example, when planting a garden, one would want to find multiple worms in the soil. A worm’s role in the soil shows that the garden is rich in phosphorus, calcium, nitrogen, and magnesium. These are considered important nutrients that help plants grow and stay healthy.  

However, one of the most well-known indicator species is the common honeybee. Honeybee’s are only one of around twenty thousand species of bees around the world. A bee’s role is to help plants grow, breed and produce food by pollinating. They do this by transporting pollen between plants. By doing this, bees help keep the life cycle turning. However, within the last year, we have lost forty percent of all beehives in the United States. These numbers vary across the United States. For example, in my home state of Massachusetts, beehives have declined around forty-seven percent. This decline is a cause for panic. Bee’s provide pollination for a majority of plants that we rely on for food. This spans from almonds, vanilla, certain citrus fruits, apples, zucchini and squashes. Not only do they help pollinate certain food sources, they help pollinate flowers and trees as well. Molly Peach-Laughing In Field

Throughout the years, bees have been dying to due chemicals in pest control, global warming and changed landscapes.  As the name indicates, pest control involves harsh chemicals that kill insects. They are applied all over the United States and a vast majority of cropland areas. Farmers use pesticides to protect crops from pests and fungal diseases while they are growing. They also use them to protect crops from being contaminated while being stored. Overall, they can provide a safety net of protection against contaminated food for humans. However, these chemicals have the capacity to harm people and non-target organisms and the environment. Even though these pesticides are used to kill unwanted pests, bees are a non-target organism that is harmed by these chemicals.  

These chemicals in these pest controls include chlorpyriphos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin and fipronil. The four systematic agricultural pest controls resemble nicotine and they act on the bee’s nervous system. As the chemicals beset individual bees, the chemicals infiltrate the colonies and eventually accumulate the beehives. Even the bees that feed and tend to the infant larvae are affected. Lastly, if the bees do not die completely, they experience semi-lethal systematic effects, weakness, development effects and loss of orientation. low angle of green trees

I remember when my parents decided to use chemicals on plants in our garden for the first time. It was the Spring after a rise in Popillia Japonica, an insect otherwise known as the Japanese Beetle. These insects left holes in the leaves of our plants and ruined most of our summer crops. Therefore, my father thought it would be smart to take a preventive action. As soon as the chemicals were sprayed on our five-acre land, I went to take my dog outside. However, the landscaper stopped me and told my family we should wait at least three days before letting my dogs off a leash in the yard.  

At the time, I was not fazed by this information. As time went on, I questioned how safe it was to spray those chemicals. Due to the fact that my household pet was not allowed to wander around the yard, I questioned what they would do to the bees. Most importantly, I questioned what these chemicals would do to our pollinators.  

Another reason why bees are dying out, is due to climate change and changes in the environment. The consequences of climate change are increasing. Bees suffer from increasing temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and more erratic or extreme weather events.. These changes affect bees individually, but within their hives as well. Fragmentation of natural habitats play a role in the changed environment as well. Humans have created insensitive urban developments and use intensive farming that breaks down the bee’s food sources and safe nesting places. These destructive practices cause the bees to suffer because, managed or wild, they cannot escape the various impacts humans make. 

Even though the decline in beehives is alarming, not everyone is as worried as they should be. Instead, scientists are working on a contingency plan. Robot technology is progressing faster than ever before. A German innovation organization, Festo, has found a way that recreates the movement of an ancient dragonfly. This particular extinct insect has a wingspan of sixty-five centimeters. More researchers in the Netherlands have created a robotic insect then centimeters from wing to wing.  

Despite the fact that scientists are working on these robobees, they have yet to figure out how humans could create a pollinating drone the size of a bee. For example, all of the materials that are needed involve batteries, motors and sensors. These are to large or heavy for a small drone to fly. In these circumstances, if scientist could develop each of these components from scratch, it would still take decades to invent this technology. flowers at sunset

Solving something like this to a problem that humans created is not the way to go. We are slowly but surely taking from our planet to the point where we can take no more. Like every member in my family, bees have a specific role in my garden. They help my flowers grow in the Spring and vegetables grow in the Summer. Bees have a specific role in all gardens and farmlands. The loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitat, and pesticides are killing the bees. We would not starve if bees were ever to go extinct. However, dairy farms and the clothing industry would be heavily impacted. Without bees as our pollinators, our global food supply would collapse. So, when thinking about using chemicals in the garden don’t be a busy bee, and take a moment to think about the indicator species.