In this guide, we look at the various potential solutions to stop bee population decline and death of certain species’ of bees.
Summary – Solutions To Save Bees
We’ve already summarised that US honey bees are not currently endangered, or currently in danger of going extinct.
But, there’s a very very small number of species of bees that are endangered (about 8 species out of 25,000) globally.
Some short term or long term solutions to stopping bee population numbers from declining are:
Better resources and mechanisms to investigate and confirm bee loss causes and trends
Better financial incentive to protect bee numbers for farmers and people
More seeds and better resources to plant and protect habitats for pollinators
Better education of protecting pollinators in general
More effective pest management against mites, beetles and other pests
Better nutrition in bee diets
Better information on how miticides and agricultural chemicals affect bees
More effective communication between beekeepers and farmers
More information on how to prevent and manage bee diseases
Better protection of bees against animal and plant threats
More focus to restore bee numbers after natural events, destructive events, and winter months or colder months
More information on the impact of a changing climate and conditions for bees
Change the economics of beekeeping by charging a higher price, and incentivizing healthy population numbers
Causes Of Bee Loss & Decline
There are threats that can lead to temporary or permanent loss or decline of bee population numbers.
Obstacles To Identifying Exact Causes Of Bee Decline, and Implementing Solutions
Identifying the exact cause for temporary or permanent bee population numbers decline isn’t precise or easy.
There are shortcomings and inaccuracies with doing so:
… mechanisms for reporting colony losses and identifying the source of contamination are deficient and variable based on state and local government agencies
Although people on farms and in cities are ready and willing to take action to protect bees and other beneficial insects, their actions are impeded by a lack of financial incentives, lack of abundant seeds to plant pollinator habitat on large scales, and lack of education about ways to protect pollinators while applying pesticides.
How To Stop The Bee Population From Dying (Solutions To Save Bees)
More effective pest management practices by beekeepers
Of Varrora mites mainly, but also other pests like Acarina mites and hive beetles.
In particular, better practices need to be implemented that deal with the resistance Varrora mites develop to miticides made to kill them.
Focus on bee diet and nutrition by beekeepers
Some keepers are adding protein supplements, or making the diet more diverse than just sugar water or corn syrup and one monoculture crop.
The problem with the current bee diet is that sugar water, or monoculture crops that bees go out to pollinate, might not have enough diversity or nutrition.
When bees aren’t getting proper nutrition, their health suffers, they get weak, and other environmental threats and stressors can impact their well being and mortality (they become more susceptible to pesticides, mites, diseases and so on)
More focus on how miticides affect bees
Miticides can impact bee health and their ability to function, but exactly to what extent and how to deal with this needs better clarification.
More focus on how synthetic seed/crop pesticides affect bees
Crop pesticides can impact bee health and their ability to function (when bees go out to collect nectar and to fertilize/pollinate crops), but exactly to what extent and how to deal with this needs better clarification.
It’s possible organic pesticides are explored in terms of their suitability, or current pesticides are improved more to become more safer
More effective communication between beekeepers and farmers whose crops are being pollinated
There needs to be more effective communication on the impact the pesticides are having on bees when they come back to hives – how do bees respond in the short and long term once coming back?
Farmers (whose crops are pollinated by bees), and bee keepers can work together in this regard
More focus on how to prevent and manage bee diseases such as foulbrood and chalkbrood
Could come from better nutrition, or better hive conditions
Protection of bee natural habitats
Habitat destruction occurs because of urbanization.
Flower meadows are a favorite habitat of bees and other pollinators
Protection of bees against animal and plant threats
Threats such as non-native animals, non-native plant species, nonnative predators and so on
A focussed effort to restore bee numbers after natural events
Such as hurricanes, tsunamis and drought
A focussed effort to restore bee numbers after other destructive events such as wildfires
A focussed effort to restore bee numbers after colder winter months
More study on the impact of changing global world temperatures (and possibly climate change) on bees
Changing temperature can stress the physiology of bees, change their individual and hive behavior, change their feeding patterns, and force them to find more mild climates where there are less nutritious food sources available
beelab.umn.edu also propose how we might create more positive change for bees and other pollinator species:
[we can remove the above listed obstacles by:]
(1) developing better usage and incident reporting data systems;
(2) generating more and better training for pesticide applicators;
(3) increasing awareness about the importance of integrated pest management (IPM), both for pesticide applicators and beekeepers;
and (4) modifying landscape practices to accommodate honey bees, native bees, and other beneficial insects would generate real and positive change.
acsh.org has some suggestions and observations for managing bee population numbers:
beekeepers have been able to adapt their managerial practices and repopulate their stocks when cold weather or virus-related losses occur.
Winter losses can easily be replenished by splitting hives, but experts say that’s not the optimal solution; it would be better for bee stocks for overwinter losses to continue their recent decline.
Bee keepers can also charge higher prices for pollination services and honey (or they can find agricultural fields that will pay higher prices) – this incentivizes beekeepers to increase colony numbers