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Do Now #79: Saving the Honey Bees

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KQED QUEST

KQED QUEST


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

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Do Now

Are we doing enough to protect honey bees? How might this environmental issue impact you? What do you think will happen if there are no more honey bees?

Introduction

Since 2006, honey bees have been dying at an alarming rate. The event, called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has killed about one third of all honey bees within the US.

We depend on honey bees to pollinate crops that we eat every day—apples, cucumbers, blueberries, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, carrots, avocados, almonds, strawberries, soybeans, watermelon, and more. The bees’ services are estimated to be worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually in the US alone.

Researchers have found links to CCD with certain pesticides called neonicotinoids. Last month, nations within the European Union voted a two-year ban on neonicotinoids to protect honey bees.

The US Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency came out with a 72-page report on honey bee health determining that pesticides in combination with other factors—including parasitic mites, low genetic diversity in bees, and poor nutrition—are contributing to CCD. Neither organization recommends banning neonicotinoids as the EU has done, but would like beekeepers and growers to collaborate on best practices with use of pesticides.

The US organizations will update an action plan to include priorities in combating CCD over the next 5-10 years.

Are we doing enough to protect honey bees?

Resource

KQED QUEST video New Research into Disappearing Bees – Nov. 22, 2011
Bees – for some reason – seem to fascinate many of us. Perhaps it’s their social structure: the queen, the workers, the drones, producing honey and baby bees and living their short lives in a super-organized way that would be the envy of any business. Like many an enterprise today, they even have guards outside the hives to sound the alarm if things get out of hand.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

New York Times post Study Finds No Single Cause of Honeybee Deaths – May 2, 2013
Honey bees, which play a key role in pollinating a wide variety of food crops, are in sharp decline in the United States, due to parasites, disease and pesticides, said a federal report released on Thursday.

Reuters post As honey bee numbers drop, U.S. sees threat to food supply – May 2, 2013
The death toll from the collapse of a Bangladesh clothing factory surpassed 600 on Monday, making it the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. Officials from Walmart, San Francisco-based Gap Inc. and other retailers met in Germany after the collapse to talk about improving safety measures in Bangladesh. We discuss the social costs of cheap clothing.

USDA/EPA study New Report on Honey Bee Health – May 2, 2013
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

NPR post Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees – April 29, 2013
Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.


KQED Do Now Science is a monthly activity in collaboration with California Academy of Sciences. To participate in this discussion, we post our science activities every second Tuesday of the month.

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Category: Do Now, Do Now: Science

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About the Author ()

The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and sustain life. Visit www.calacademy.org for more information.
  • Alis Manoogian

    I think that the United States should follow with the European Union and ban neonicotinoids for two years. If The United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency came out with a report explaining factors that contribute to CCD, they should not allow neonicotinoids to be used. Because the “bee’s services are estimated to be worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually in the United States alone”, I think this should be a more significant concern for the United States. In order to reduce CCD, the United States must reduce the exposure to specific pesticides that can be killing bees. The United States must also consider the amount of money in agricultural production that is at risk with the continued use neonicotinoids.

  • Alis Manoogian

    I think that the United States should follow with the European Union and ban neonicotinoids for two years. If The United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency came out with a report explaining factors that contribute to CCD, they should not allow neonicotinoids to be used. Because the “bee’s services are estimated to be worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually in the United States alone”, I think this should be a more significant concern for the United States. In order to reduce CCD, the United States must reduce the exposure to specific pesticides that can be killing bees. The United States must also consider the amount of money in agricultural production that is at risk with the continued use neonicotinoids.