Bees are quite possibly the most important creatures on the planet. Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left.  No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Well, for the past fifteen years, the bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate, mostly due to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides which are now in widespread use around the globe. In some places, the Bee Information Partnership records colony losses as high as 60 percent! Without bees, farmers are unable to pollinate food crops, which, as Albert Einstein predicted, spells very bad news for us.

The situation is so dire in fact, that in June of 2014, President Obama signed a bill that would offer farmers $8 million dollars in incentives for creating new bee habitats. We applaud the president in taking the first of many steps in addressing this important problem, however, without accompanying measures restricting or outright banning the use of toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, this strategy may not be very effective in restoring lost populations. Since 2001, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been busy monitoring bees, documenting their movement, numbers and contributions to our economy. However, the recent advent of the macro photo system has brought the world of bees into a whole new light.

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fuzzy bee

“Once you blow [the bees] up to the size of a German shepherd…people start paying attention.” says Sam Droege, biologist with USGS.

stripped bee

“The pictures are so detailed, they create a virtual museum for these specimens,” says Drogoe.

bright bee

At one time, there were over 4,000 species of bees in North America alone, pollinating food for everyone and everything to eat.

blue bee

However, the  introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides, starting in the 1990s, have reduced those numbers by over 30 percent!

bee

With bees contributing an estimated 15 billion dollars worth of effort to growing crops each year, this is a problem that the world cannot afford to ignore.

bee in warp speed

Without bees, even growing your own food will become a very difficult process.

bee flying

Although some countries have banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, the U.S., one of the world’s leading agricultural nations, has not.

green bee

According to the Washington Post, because 90 percent of these toxic pesticides wind up in our waterways, we are now seeing birds, worms, fish and other species showing adverse effects as well.

bee goggles

We can all make a difference for bees in our daily lives, to learn more about how you can help this struggling species, check out these articles:

 

All image source: USGS/Flickr

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