Climate change is clearly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, existential threats the human race faces today. It is clear how the ravishes of climate change can damage our buildings, our transportation, and our way of life. But many people may not be aware of how the changes to the planet affect the population of honeybees. Read this article to learn about the three ways climate change is affecting honeybees. It may inspire you to take some action.
One of the most obvious ways climate change affects honeybees is through a loss in their habitat. As the planet gets warmer, honeybees are no longer adapted to survive in the areas where they previously built hives. As a result, they are dying from the heat. Other insects that face warming temperatures are better able to change their circumstances to handle the rapidly heating planet. Some animals, like butterflies, can make up for this change by relocating to other places that better sustain their lives. However, we have not seen the same response in bees.
Research published in the journal Science shows that honeybees have failed to travel to the North and South Poles as the planet warms from climate change. As a result, the honeybees have lost a total of 200 miles of habitat in both North America and Europe.
Although the researchers recommended a few methods of warding off the worst of honeybee population decline—such as creating “safe havens” where the honeybees can live—they still recognize that the best way to avert a major population drop is to address climate change head-on. They recommend comprehensive plans to limit the amount of greenhouse gases put in the atmosphere.
Honeybees run on a very strict, rigid clock. Over thousands of years of evolution, their bodies have adapted to respond to the seasons. In a world with a perfectly ordinary, typical seasonal schedule, they know when to collect pollen or nectar from the blooming flowers. They rely on their abilities to help them produce enough food to survive and thrive throughout the harsh winter months. However, with climate change, it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult for the furry creatures to know when it is time to harvest their food.
With the average monthly temperature rising, the flowers are blooming earlier all the time. This creates a potential mismatch for the honeybees, throwing them off their honey production. The changing seasons make it so the honeybees cannot rely on past experiences to inform when to cultivate their food.
A group of German researchers working from the University of Würzburg wrote in the Journal of Animal Biology that honeybees that hatch before flowering experience less activity, lower reproduction rates, and are more likely to be harmed by predators when compared to honeybees that hatch at a regular time. Even just a short mismatch of a few days can entirely harm the hive’s chance for survival.
Honeybees have nothing to do with climate change. As a species, they work in harmony with the natural changes of the environment from season to season. However, our meddling with the planet’s environment has thrown off their course. They are another example of a species taking the brunt end of human stupidity and shortsightedness.
Modern science gives us reason to believe that a warming planet can spread many of the diseases that have already ravished so many honeybee hives. Honeybees easily succumb to parasites like Varroa mites, as well as gut parasites like Nosema ceranae. The environmental stress created by climate change currently makes this problem all the more pronounced. A study from Queen’s University Belfast linked colder temperatures with lower levels of Nosema ceranae in honeybee hives. From this observation, scientists are growing more concerned that a warming planet could mean a faster spread of diseases.
Furthermore, a paper published in Scientific Reports found that the prevalence of Varroa mites went up when temperatures escalated and decreased during wind and heavy rainfall. From this, scientists have concluded that unpredictable weather can have a dangerous impact on the honeybee population.
What You Can Do
Does this all sound dire and upsetting? Perhaps it should. We are living in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. Just a quick glance at the three ways climate change is affecting honeybees is enough to make a person question what the world is going to look like in five or 10 years. But there is no reason to give up entirely. There are things you can do as a citizen that can help improve the fate of the honeybee population.
Plant a Pollinator Garden
As the name suggests, a pollinator garden is a garden for pollinators. The goal is to create a space that is very attractive for honeybees and other critters that pollinate the planet. To create a pollinator garden, you want to plant flowers that attract honeybees. Colors like purple, blue, and violet are the most likely to catch their attention.
You can also create a honeybee bath by filling a water receptacle with water and pebbles. The pebbles give the bees a place to stand so they do not drown as they drink.
Write To Your Legislator
It is easy to be apathetic about the political process. Watching the news, it looks like nothing will ever change for the better. But you really can reach people in office, and those legislators really can make a difference. Write a letter to your congressman or senator. Ask that they look at how climate change is affecting the honeybee population. If you think there will be more strength in numbers, get a letter-writing campaign going.
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
If you are going to walk the walk, you better be prepared to talk the talk. Honeybees need your protection from the dangerous impacts of a warming planet. By investing in energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, ceiling fans, and other home appliances, you are taking a stand against some of the worst habits the human race possesses.
From habitat loss to disease, it is clear honeybees are taking the brunt end of man’s reliance on fossil fuels. Hopefully, if people can dedicate themselves to real change, we can witness a future where our honeybees are safe yet again. If you are trying to make a difference by nurturing your own honeybees, you should consider mite-resistant bees for sale at The B Farm.