Table of Content:
2.0 Impact on Food Production
3.0 Impact on the Bees
4.0 Bees and their Pandemic
The pandemic 2020 has caused various modifications not only in the human day to day life but also in the natural ecosystem. It has impacted our way of living with strict lockdown implemented in various nations. However, we have also seen pollution levels go down, wildlife and sea creatures flourishing and also dolphins’ sightings near shore after several years.
This pandemic has affected everyone from humans, animals as well as insects, bugs and bees both negatively and positively. Bees, bats and birds are pollinators who impact the global food system. In this blog post, we will be highlighting the impact this pandemic had on bees and how important they are to our ecosystem. Bees have always been a major contributor to our food chain with the primary responsibility of being pollinating agents; apart from giving us nectar from the flowers in the form of honey.
Amidst the lockdown, the restricted movement of bees has affected and impacted our food production, honey production, bees and beekeepers at large since the movement of bees has been limited.
Impact on Food Production
Farmers around the world depend on bees to pollinate their crops be; it fruits, vegetables and nuts. With the restriction on travel, food production has been impacted. Usually the honeybees were trucked to various fields and crops across the world instead of being kept in one place. This in turn has also impacted the beekeepers for whom this is also one of the major contributors to their businesses more than the honey production.
In the US alone, honeybees collect pollen and nectar from plants including broccoli, almonds, berries and melons, and are responsible for pollinating $15bn worth of crops annually, according to the US Department of Agriculture. This is more lucrative for many beekeepers rather than honey production.
California which is one of the leading producers of almonds across the world depends on bees to pollinate and amid lockdown and restriction on the movement, which has led to a delay in pollination.
Even in India amid the strict lockdown beekeepers and farmers who depend on pollination have been impacted due to travel restrictions.
This is how the pandemic has impacted food production drastically across the globe.
Impact on the Bees
The world was seeing a decline in the level of the honey bees due to the colony collapse disorder, which the USDA Agricultural Research Service defines as "a dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies but with a live queen, and usually honey and immature bees, still present."
With pandemic, since the traffic over the highways has been decreasing, there has been an increase in the population of bugs, wasps and wild bees. The bees which were being impacted by the ongoing human activities might benefit from this since their population was going down because of overusing pesticides, building settlements, farming with monocultures and greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover; during this pandemic, the honey producers have seen an increase in demand for honey, many producers are now getting online orders to fulfill the demand of the customers. While it’s a good time for some bees to produce honey, some which rely locally upon extract nectar are dying due to the lack of nectar.
Bees and their Pandemic
While the current pandemic has affected us human beings and we think it’s so long and frustrating, the honeybees that heavily rely on their mutual social interactions have been impacted considerably with a pandemic of their own for a decade.
A parasite mite popularly named Varroa destructor, which originally used to infect honeybee colonies in Asia at large has started to infect western honeybees that dominate commercial pollination across the globe. This has impacted honeybee colonies across the world now and is becoming one of the biggest pathological threats to honeybee health. Beekeepers and scientist are doing their best to breed Varrora resistant genetic stock but it’s too costly. Hence the beekeepers have to medicate their hives with miticides in order to protect their bees and their colonies.
However; during pollination if any single bee is affected with the pathogen then it will impact the entire hive or colony.
This pathogen spreads as a result of us humans facilitating and keeping the Asian and western bees in artificially close proximity and then transporting these infested colonies between countries.
A globalized economy demanding mass production has impacted the ecosystem and has enhanced and created conditions for these pathogens and parasites to quickly spread. These pathogens are a threat to our own health, health of our livestock and wildlife.
While the current global pandemic has caused us a lot of harm and impacted our health, food production and economy, it has made us realize that how we and our economy are dependent on the natural food chain and ecosystem. And how an impact on them can affect us in the long term and our lives at large.
It gives us a peek and makes us wonder how bees being so small have a huge impact on the food production across the globe and how each living creature is an important factor and contributor in the food chain how and without them we will be hugely affected. Hence protecting and preserving nature becomes important and it is our duty to conserve the environment and its resources.
It gives us a lesson on how our activities and facilitation are giving rise to the spread of pathogens and parasites not only amongst our livestock but also within us.
On a positive note this pandemic has given a grim look at how we can assimilate with nature and bring a positive change in the world with green, sustainable and impactful usage of the resources we have. This will not only be good for us but also for the wildlife and ecosystem we live in at large.