Extinction of bees: causes and consequences

Extinction of bees: causes and consequences

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The phrase "bees are dying out" today sounds like an ominous harbinger of the coming apocalypse not only for humanity, but for the entire planet. But the Earth has seen not such extinctions. She will survive. And humanity will quickly disappear after the bees, if it is not possible to stop the extinction of these workers.

What role do bees play

A bee is an insect at the beginning of the food chain. This means that if the bees disappear, the whole chain will collapse. One link will disappear after the other.

Bees pollinate 80% of crops. These are mainly fruit trees and shrubs. The decrease in the number of bee colonies has already led to the fact that in 2009-2013, farmers did not get a third of the harvest of apples and almonds. These crops have been hardest hit by the extinction of pollinators. In the United States, it was necessary to introduce state support for beekeeping. New families are brought into the regions affected by the extinction of the colonies every year.

Even self-pollinated fruits and berries without bees reduce yields. This is clearly seen in the example of strawberries, which produce 53% of the berries by self-pollination, 14% by wind and 20% by bees. The economic damage from the death of pollinators in the United States alone is already estimated at billions of dollars.

Attention! In Russia, no one is involved in calculating the damage caused by the disappearance of bees, but it is hardly less.

The economic damage is not as important as the fact that without pollinators, plant foods will disappear the next year. Most cucurbits cannot produce crops by self-pollination. The issues of survival and death of bees and humans are interrelated.

Why are bees disappearing on the planet?

The answer to this question has not yet been found. The main blame for the disappearance of pollinating insects is attributed to the widespread use of chemicals in the fields. But the version has not been finally proven, since there are facts that contradict this theory. There are falsifications of the results of experiments both on the part of the supporters of pesticides and on the part of their opponents.

The spread of parasites and pathogens can also contribute to the extinction of pollinators. Previously, bees could not fly over large bodies of water, but today they are transported by people. Along with productive insects, parasites and infections spread.

The climate theme is also very popular. The disappearance of pollinators is attributed to cold winters. But the Hymenoptera in their history have already survived not a single glaciation and were not going to die out. So the reasons for the disappearance of bees on the planet are very vague. Moreover, they are not dying out alone, but in the company of relatives.

When the disappearance of the bees began

Pollinating insects began to disappear in the United States, and at first this did not bother anyone. Just think, in California in the 70s, for unknown reasons, extinction befell almost half of the bee colonies. But then the extinction spread across the globe. And here the panic has already begun. After all, if the bees die out, the reproduction cycle of flowering plants will stop. And other pollinators will not help, as they die out along with the honey bees.

The disappearance of Hymenoptera was noticed only in 2006, although 23 species of bees and wasps have already become extinct in Great Britain since the beginning of the 20th century. And in the world, the extinction of these insects began in the 90s of the twentieth century.

The alarm was sounded in Russia in 2007. But for 10 years the problem of extinction has not been solved. In 2017, there was a record number of deaths during the wintering of colonies. In some areas, 100% of families died out with the usual death rate of 10-40%.

The reasons for the mass death of bees

The reasons for the mass death of bees have not been established and all explanations for the extinction are still at the level of theories. Possible reasons for the extinction of bees in the world are called:

  • the use of insecticides;
  • cold winters;
  • the spread of pathogenic bacteria;
  • the spread of the varroa mite;
  • mass infection with microsporidia Nosema apis;
  • collapse syndrome of bee colonies;
  • electromagnetic radiation;
  • the emergence of mobile communications in the 4G format.

Research into the causes of the extinction of bees is still ongoing, although the first signs of extinction of Hymenoptera appeared about a century ago, after the First World War. When it seems that the cause of the death of pollinators has already been found, there is evidence that refutes the results of the study.


With the advent of relatively harmless insecticides of systemic action, they tried to blame for the extinction. Studies have confirmed that in bees poisoned by neonicotinoids, only half of the families survive the winter. But it immediately turned out that in California, bee colonies began to disappear back in the 90s, when this type of pesticide was not widespread. And in Australia, the use of neonicotinoids is widespread, but bees are not going to die out. But in Australia there is no frost, no varroa mite.


In Estonia, scientists also blame pesticides for the death of apiaries, but in the cold winter of 2012-2013 and due to the late arrival of spring, 25% of families did not survive the winter. In some apiaries, the mortality rate was 100%. It was suggested that the cold had a bad effect on bees weakened by insecticides. But Estonian beekeepers blame the "rotten" for the death of their wards.

Bacterial infection

Foulbrood or rot is called a bacterial disease that occurs in larvae. Since this is a bacterium, it is no longer possible to get rid of the pathogen when the colony is defeated. The most common European (Melissococcus plutonius) and American (Paenibacillus larvae) foulbrood. When infected with these bacteria, the brood dies, and after that the entire colony gradually dies out.

Attention! In Latvia, these bacteria have already infected 7% of the total number of all colonies.

The bacteria are sensitive to streptomycin, tetracycline antibiotics, sulfonamides. But getting rid of the infection completely is very difficult.


There are several types of these mites, the most dangerous of which is Varroa destructor. It is this species that is considered the main culprit of bee panzootic and insect death. It parasitizes the Chinese wax and common honey bees.

It was first discovered in South Asia. As a result of trade, exchange and attempts to breed new bees, it spread throughout the world. Today, any apiary on the Eurasian continent is infected with varroa.

The female mite lays eggs in unsealed brood cells. Further, new mites parasitize the growing larvae. If only one egg has been laid, the new bee will be weak and small. With two or more mites parasitizing on one larva, the bee will be disfigured:

  • underdeveloped wings;
  • small size;
  • paws with defects.

Bees infected with varroa at the larval stage are unable to work. With 6 mites in the cell, the larva dies. With significant tick infestation, the colony dies out. The insect trade is cited as one of the reasons for the extinction, as it contributes to the spread of varroa.


Microsporidia, which lives in the intestines of bees, leads to digestive disorders and often to the death of the colony. The so-called "vomited" combs are a consequence of the disease of bees with nosematosis. The main blame for the disappearance of bees in the world is not laid on her. With a strong infestation, the bees die, remaining in the hive, but do not disappear in an unknown direction.

Collapse Syndrome of Bee Colonies

It is not a disease per se. One day, far from perfect for him, the beekeeper discovers that bees have disappeared from the hives. All stocks and brood remain in the nest, but there are no adults. Scientists still have not figured out what makes the bees leave the hive, although disappearances have already gone down to a percentage of the total number of colonies.

The reasons for the appearance of the syndrome are sought in the use of pesticides, tick infestation, or a combination of all factors. The "tick" version has certain reasons. In the wild, animals get rid of some of the parasites by changing shelters. A family heavily infested with ticks, in fact, may try to change their place of residence in order to get rid of some of the parasites. But since all colonies are already infected with ticks, it is also impossible to point to varroa as the only reason for the disappearance of bees. In addition to the "natural" and "chemical" reasons for the extinction of bees, there is also an "electromagnetic" theory.

Electromagnetic radiation

Another version of why bees disappear is the proliferation of mobile communications and towers for it. Since the hype around the mass death of bees began only in the 2000s, conspiracy theorists immediately linked the extinction of insects with the development of mobile communications and an increase in the number of towers. It is not clear only what to do with the mass death of bees in the 70s of the last century in California and the extinction of 23 species of pollinating wasps and bees on the islands of Great Britain, which began at the beginning of the last century. Indeed, at that time, mobile communication was only in science fiction novels. But scientists have not yet excluded this factor from the number of "suspects" in the death of bee colonies.

New generation 4G mobile communication format

This communication format has not even covered the entire globe, but it has already been made "guilty" for the death of bee colonies. The explanation is simple: the wavelength of this format is the same as the body length of the bee. Because of this coincidence, the bee enters into resonance and dies.

The tabloid press is not worried about the fact that in Russia this format works only on 50% of the territory, which implies the presence of this connection only in large developed cities. An apiary in the middle of a million-plus city has nothing to do. And in remote places suitable for honey collection, there is often no mobile connection at all.

Attention! The newest 5G format has already been made responsible for the mass death. But not bees, but birds.

For some reason, no one is considering a couple of theories, which are also only theories so far: another mass extinction and the greed of beekeepers. The latter is especially important for Russia with its total passion for traditional medicine.

Mass extinction

Over the past 540 million years, the planet has experienced 25 mass extinctions. 5 of them were very large-scale. Not the largest, but the most famous of them - the extinction of the dinosaurs. The largest extinction occurred 250 million years ago. Then 90% of all living organisms disappeared.

The most common causes of extinctions are called:

  • volcanic eruptions;
  • climate change;
  • meteor falling.

But none of these theories provide an answer to the question of why extinction was selective. Why dinosaurs disappeared, but more ancient crocodiles and turtles survived, as well as what they ate and why they did not freeze. Why, as a result of the "nuclear winter" after the fall of the meteorite, the dinosaurs underwent extinction, and the bees that arose 100 million years ago remained to live. Indeed, according to modern theory, the death of bee colonies also occurs due to cold winters.

But if we assume that the mechanism of mass extinction of flora and fauna was triggered by some very small factor, like a worm or an insect, then everything falls into place. Those species survived that did not depend on this factor. But the “factor” did not die out because of human economic activity.

Many scientists have long concluded that humanity is living in an era of another mass extinction. If insects-pollinators serve as the trigger for the beginning of mass death today, then the next grandiose extinction awaits the Earth. And the bees disappear, because they have outlived theirs, and the time has come to give way to new species.


Previously, only honey and wax were taken from bees. Propolis was a by-product of beekeeping. It was obtained when they cleaned old hives from the waste products of bees. Wax was also obtained by melting the honeycomb from which the honey was squeezed out.

For the first time, the extinction of bees observed in Russia coincided in a strange way with the craze for traditional medicine. Beekeeping products began to be extolled as a panacea for all diseases in the world. Everything went into business:

  • honey;
  • royal jelly;
  • perga;
  • drone milk.

But about propolis, after it became widely known about its origin, they forgot a little.

Of all the listed products, honey is the cheapest. Perga costs 4 times more expensive than the most expensive honey, and it is difficult to resist the temptation to take it from bees. But this is the main food of the bee colony in winter. By taking it away, the beekeeper leaves the insects hungry. And, perhaps, dooms them to death.

Important! Africanized bees are not prone to extinction, but they do not allow people to approach them and they are not threatened with death from hunger.

Drones are essential members of the colony. With a lack of drones, bees do not collect honey, but build drone cells and feed the drone brood. But the beekeeper selects drone combs with almost ready males and puts them under the press. This is how "drone milk / homogenate" is obtained. These are unborn drones leaked through holes in the press. And workers are forced to re-raise drone brood instead of collecting honey and pollen.

Royal jelly is obtained by killing the larvae of the queens. The medicinal properties of pollen, drone and royal jelly have not been officially proven. It is not surprising that with such a hectic life, bees prefer to disappear into the forest and find a hollow for themselves.

Attention! There is also an unproven theory that a human domesticated species is dying out in nature.

This theory is confirmed by the disappearance in nature of the European tur (ancestor of the cow) and tarpan (the ancestor of the domestic horse). But these disappearances are unlikely to be directly related to domestication. Wild animals were food competitors for domestic animals and humans were engaged in the extermination of "savages". The wild ancestors of domesticated geese and ducks are not dying out, but thriving. But they have never been serious competitors to the domestic livestock.

The bee is not fully domesticated, but has almost disappeared in the wild. This is most likely due to sanitary deforestation, when hollow trees are destroyed.

Why bees die in Russia

The reasons for the death of bees in Russia do not differ from those in the whole world. In other words, no one really knows anything, but they are “blamed” for the extinction of families:

  • chemicals;
  • climate;
  • illness;
  • mite varroa.

In Russia, to the "traditional" reasons for the death of insects, you can safely add a thirst for profit. Even if the beekeeper only takes honey, he usually takes more than he can. Then the family is fed with sugar syrup so that it regains supplies and survives the winter safely.

But even in the middle of the last century in the USSR, conscientious beekeepers strictly monitored that workers did not eat sugar and did not carry such "honey" into the hive. Lazy people even knew how to reeducate. Eating sugar weakens insects. At first it is imperceptible, but then "suddenly" the colony dies out.

Russian beekeepers blame neighboring farms for the extinction of bees, which process their fields with pesticides. And beekeepers have reasons for this. Russian agricultural firms often use cheap chemicals that kill bees.

What happens if the bees disappear

Nothing will happen:

  • nor 80% of plants;
  • no animals feeding on these plants;
  • no people.

The disappearance of pollinating insects may be the trigger that sets off a mass extinction mechanism. In addition to honey bees, bumblebees and wasps are dying out. They all belong to the same group. Bees and bumblebees are a private version of wasps.

Attention! Ants are the closest relatives of wasps.

No one has yet wondered if ants are not dying out. If it turns out that all "relatives" are dying out, then things are even worse than they seem. Humanity will lose all pollinators, not just bees. If the bees disappear, then humanity will have 4 years to live. On old stocks. And only to those who have time to capture these reserves.

A plot for a horror movie that can come true. The next year, plants pollinated by bees will not yield a crop. People will only be left with artificially bred parthenocarpic varieties of vegetables. But with self-pollination, such varieties do not give new seeds. And how to get seeds from them, the manufacturer keeps a secret.

Obtaining vegetables of even such varieties will be limited by the number of their seeds and the germination period. Extinction will overtake all flower plants on which today one could try to survive following the example of ancient ancestors. The fodder grasses that livestock eat will last for several years. But a herb that does not produce seeds has a short lifespan. The grasses will begin to die out, and the cattle will follow them. Life can only remain in the sea, which has almost no connection with land and certainly does not depend on bees.

But the sea is not enough for everyone. He is no longer enough. And no one knows if there is a "sea bee" of its own, which is also dying out. One way or another, the familiar world will perish if the bees die out. If intelligence ever reappears on the planet, scientists will also speculate about the reasons for this mass extinction. And no one can tell them that the reason is the death of small invisible insects.

What steps are being taken

Predictions for the complete disappearance of bees vary greatly in terms of timing. From 2035, in which the bees will finally disappear, to the vague “in the next century”. Since the reasons for the extinction are unknown, then the fight against the disappearance of bee colonies is carried out according to hypotheses:

  • Europe is reducing the use of pesticides;
  • The USA is trying to create micro-robots that will replace bees in pollination of plants (you can not count on honey);
  • Monsanto said tackling bee extinction is a priority but is not trusted;
  • The Russian Center for the Revival of Natural Beekeeping has developed a program to return bees to the wild.

Since a possible reason for the extinction of bees was the thoughtless import of a more productive, but thermophilic southern bee to the north, today the movement of insects has begun to be limited. Breeding of local populations is encouraged. But "pure" local subspecies of bees have almost disappeared and measures are required to restore the number of local colonies.

A subspecies of the dark forest bee has disappeared in Europe, Belarus and Ukraine. But it is still preserved in Bashkiria, Tatarstan, Perm and Altai territories, in the Kirov region. The authorities of Bashkiria have banned the import of other populations into their territory so that the subspecies no longer mix.

The program for the return of bee colonies to nature provides for the preparation and creation of 50,000 apiaries of 10 families, where people will not take all the honey from the families, instead giving sugar. The colonies will be self-sufficient. Also, bees cannot be treated with chemistry. Although it is not clear how to deal with varroa in this case. The program is designed for 16 years, during which up to 70% of the swarms will be released annually.

As a result of the program implementation, about 7.5 million bee colonies will appear in the forests. It is believed that this is enough for the bees to stop dying out and begin to reproduce on their own.


In connection with the disappearance of the main worker in agriculture, a new branch began to develop: bumblebee breeding. Bumblebee is more hardworking and hardier. He is less susceptible to disease. It is not so depleted by parasites. But in Russia bumblebee breeding is not developed, and farmers buy insects abroad. Mostly in Belgium. For the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, the bumblebee is not of interest. Western Europe sells bumblebees for 150-200 million euros per year.

The bumblebee has only one disadvantage as a pollinator: it is heavier.


Bees are dying out for reasons unknown to people. With a high degree of probability, extinction is facilitated by a complex of factors that alone do not kill insects. But, overlapping each other, they lead to the extinction of bee colonies.

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