Bees are a very integral and important piece of nature and the ecosystem as a whole. However, in the US hotspot for beekeeping, located in the Northern Great Plains of the Dakotas, a new federal study has determined that bees are finding it harder and harder to find food in what has been known as America’s last honeybee refuge.
At the refuge, more than 1 million honeybees spend the summer feeding on the pollen and nectar of the wildflowers in and near the area. Unfortunately, between 2006 and 2016, more than half the conservation land within a short mile of the bee colony refuge was changed over for agricultural use, such as the planting of soybeans and corn—crops which offer no sustaining source of food for the bees.
The bee population has taken a drastic hit, and for a decade their numbers have exponentially been decreasing. Other than the switch to agricultural farmland, many other factors are believed to be contributing to the bee population problem including poor nutritional choices, man made pesticides, a growing number of parasites, and even disease.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the factor that most affected the honeybee refuge is the loss of approximately 629 square miles of what was once a prime habitat for the honeybees. Clint Otto of the US Geological Survey stated that when bees have a hard time, or simply are unable to find food, they are not likely to survive the winter. The changing of the area around the refuge will most assuredly result in the massive loss of honeybees over the upcoming winter months.
When it is all said and done, the bottom line is that honeybees are slowly but surely being pushed towards the brink of extinction. Seeing that they are the primary vehicle for pollination in the natural world, when they are gone a whole other host of problems, and issues, will result.