The world’s bees are in trouble, largely due to human actions, and we are reaching a point where we can no longer ignore their plight. These insects are responsible for pollinating a majority of the food we eat every day, and they are at the heart of global agriculture. Seeing their numbers drop exponentially is incredibly frightening, which is why we are so pleased to report that the world powers are finally stepping up and demanding action.

At the recent United Nations Conference on Biodiversity, committee experts from around the world released a study and a statement: “Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are increasingly under threat from human activities and countries must transform their agricultural practices to ensure global crop production can meet demand and avoid substantial economic losses.”

The committee went on to point out that 557 billion dollars worth of crops are dependent on the indispensable services pollinators provide. This comes as little surprise, considering bees and other pollinators tend to around 75 percent of the crops in the global agricultural system, but they also do far more. These insects are responsible for pollinating 90 percent of the world’s flowering wild plants – they are an irreplaceable part of the world’s ecosystem. And what’s more, they are disappearing.

The committee found that of the 20,000 species of pollinators across the globe, 16 percent of the vertebrates, and over 40 percent of the invertebrates, are endangered.  These species are essential to the maintenance of the biodiversity on our planet. Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the committee reminded us, “The growing threat to pollinators, which play an important role in food security, provides another compelling example of how connected people are to our environment, and how deeply entwined our fate is with that of the natural world.” Many have lost sight of this.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) released a study showing the dire plight of pollinators in the United States. They estimate that over 10 million beehives and an untold number of bees have been lost over the past six years – other pollinators have been similarly affected. The UN committee and the CFS both trace collapse of our planet’s pollinator population back to human activities. The use of toxic pesticides to grow our food, combined with the destruction of these creatures’ habitat, has taken its toll, and pollinators are dying at record rates.

The committee urged the nations of the world to “Promote of sustainable agriculture, [create] greater diversity of pollinator habitats in agricultural and urban landscapes, crop rotation, using indigenous local knowledge and decreasing use of pesticides.” We can help too, by boycotting produce that has been treated with harmful pesticides and planting flowers to increase the available habitat for these pollinators. And remember to stay conscious of our pollinators because, well . . . they really are the bees’ knees.

Image source: Peerawat Aupala/Shutterstock