The Decline in Honeybees- Christina Coronis

Honeybees are disappearing at a rapid pace, due to a number of different reasons. Habitat loss, nutrition, mites, and more. Two of the most prominent, and controversial, are the use pesticides and insecticides. After reading in Steinburg we can see that there have been a number of cases in which chemicals have been used to “improve the earth,” but typically have negative consequences. Rachel Carson warned the world in her novel Silent Spring of the dangers of pesticide. Although the use of DDT had been banned due to the discussion the novel created on the issue, the use of pesticides and insecticides is far from over. honeybees

Beekeepers have noticed declining numbers as early as the 1990’s, but it was the summer of 2013 when the number of dead bees skyrocketed. This was known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). According to research done at Harvard University, there is a direct link to declining honeybee numbers and insecticides.

Pesticides are the broad category of chemicals used with crops, and insecticides fall under it. Insecticides are chemicals used on crops to kill insects that may or may not eat the crop being grown. This is useful, especially in monoculture farming so large numbers of insects don’t destroy an entire crop. However, the insects that are not harming the crop are killed as well. Pesticides do not lead to immediate death of honeybees. In the Harvard University study, conducted on eighteen colonies in central Massachusetts, showed that pesticides could actually be impairing the neurological function of honeybees. In other words, these chemicals destroy a bees ability to find its way back to the colony, and it’s ability to find food. pesticides

Our dependence on pesticides for agriculture can first be found in California in the early 1900s. Steinburg observes the growing demand for more fruit throughout the nation and California’s ability to deliver what the people want. However, with all this farming, pests began showing up. Farmers tried oils, gases, and sprays, the first pesticides, to rid the state of the insect problem. However, these remedies did nothing. They even tried “biological control” and have bugs fight other bugs, but that only worked for a short amount of time. Chemicals, on the other hand, seemed to do the trick. Thus the American addiction to insecticide was born. Since the 1900s, the use of pesticides has increased dramatically. Now everyday people can use them in their gardens, not just large farms. This mass use of insecticides is one of the reasons why honeybees are disappearing.

Honeybees play an important role in ecology. Albert Einstein once wrote “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.” Bees play a critical role in agriculture, as they pollinate plants while they feed. Ironically, these pesticides are killing one of the most important parts of agriculture while they are being sprayed to protect crops. Bees aren’t just important for the environment, but they are important to humans as well.

In order to help honeybees, one of the key ways is stop using chemicals to ward of pests. Other ways include becoming a beekeeper, buying local honey, and plant bee friendly plants. These plants include daisy’s, sunflowers, and lime trees. These will keep bees coming back to your garden.beess

It is hard to say if honeybee numbers will rise again because the decline in this species is so complex. It is certain to say that if our addiction to pesticides does not change, then honeybees will continue to die off.


6 thoughts on “The Decline in Honeybees- Christina Coronis

  1. earthhist Post author

    I really liked your post! Bees are very important to the world’s agriculture systems, so this is a very important topic. You did a great job explaining the background of pesticides and insecticides, how they impact honeybees, and the current problems with the bee population. Most people wouldn’t assume honeybees are on the endangered species list, which I learned from your post. I thought it was good how you talked about the many factors impacting the decline of honeybees, but also that there are things we could do to help.

  2. Joan

    I didn’t know that bees were on the endangered species list. I think this is a really interesting post because a lot of people don’t know the impact that bees have on the environment and ecosystem. I think you did a great job of explaining that here.

  3. Molly Bass

    This is a very interesting blog! I had one question while reading it: did the pesticides and insecticides effect the crops being grown, making it dangerous for us to use/consume? Other than that, this blog was very informative, and I found the “biological control” aspect of it interesting.

    1. Christina Coronis

      To answer your question, I think it all depends on 1. the pesticide, and 2. who you ask that question to. In my research, I did not find one specific pesticide that hurt the bees, but all pesticides/insecticides so I can’t say if there is a certain kind that would harm both bees and humans. I can’t imagine it to be beneficial for humans to be ingesting chemicals. However, pesticides have been around for a while and are constantly changing so hopefully they are safer for human consumption.

  4. Sarah Bartlett

    Christina, I really enjoyed your article. To most people honeybees sound like such a minuscule part of the ecosystem when in reality they are almost the glue that keeps many communities from falling apart. I do not think people take this problem seriously because many times bees are just seen as an annoyance. But that “annoyance” is what is keeping mankind alive as you pointed out Albert Einstein once wrote. It is scary how toxic the pesticides and insecticides we use are. If they are wiping out whole colonies of honeybees they cannot be good for our health either. America is so focused on quantity and production, long-term effects are rarely considered and they should be a huge part of decision making.

  5. christian smith

    great post! I was completely unaware of the destruction to the honeybee species, Its crazy how such a small insect plays such a major role in ecology. Also I feel if nothing is done a ripple effect could occur cause a major collapse in the food chain, and environment as we know it! Great article really gives you a lot to think about.


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