Bee series: On the decline of the bee
This butterfly called “scarce cooper” and this “hoverfly” are both pollinators that thrive on nectar and pollen, like bees. We and billions of other animals rely on them to help plants reproduce themselves effectively. Our food system is heavily dependent on those flying insects. Nevertheless, we are responsible of their decline and we, humans, cannot imagine the unprecedented crisis they are going through. 2% of the population of pollinators die each year. 2% is equivalent to the number of victims of the Spanish flu. On a human level, this crisis was a disaster, but it is happening every year, year after year, to pollinators.
If we consider the biomass of pollinators, we lost about 76% of it. You can see it every summer when you go on holiday. A few years ago, your car would be covered with crushed mosquitoes and other pollinators. Today, your car would be as clean as it was when you left. The reason being that pollinators are nearly all dead. This is the marker of how problematic our environment actually is. And since pollinators no longer exist, there is now a problem of pollination. A third of our food depends on pollinated plants, but pollinators have a role that is also eco-systemic — in other words, they contribute to the planet’s ecology by being responsible for the life of other species of plants, birds or even fish.
“Transhumance” means that, as we are facing a lack of resources, beekeepers must now run after them so that their bees do not simply die of hunger. They have to constantly move their hives, in search for food. Meanwhile, farmers must now call on beekeepers to help them pollinate their own crops. This is a phenomena which is still rather rare in Europe but is huge in the United States. A beekeeper who will help pollinate almond trees in California will come to travel around the whole country, allowing other crops like cranberries for instance, to also be pollinated.
To know more on the topic:
- 📄 “Spore & Pollen“, our research project focusing on the bee and the impact of climate change on pollinators
- 🔊 “An open-source bee for a poisonous environment” (with beekeeper and biologist Julien Perrin) — Podcast (~35min) 🇬🇧🇫🇷
- 🔊 Umwelt of the bee