Bees are an important part of our ecosystem, but many species are struggling to survive.
Coinciding with World Bee Day, the World Wildlife Fund released a new report outlining the significant collapse in the bee population of eastern England, which is one of the “richest regions for bees in Britain.”
According to the report, 17 species (which represents 7 percent of the local bee population) have become regionally extinct, while another 25 species have been labeled as at risk of extinction.
Additionally, 31 species, while not as “highly threatened,” have a “far from secure” future in the region.
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The report points out that the east of England “supports many scare and restricted species,” which is partly due to its warm and dry climate.
The region is also home to a variety of different habitats, and is one of the few “places in Europe where the coastline is so varied.”
“The main pressures faced by bees in the east of England mirror those faced by nature the world over — devastating changes to our climate, the loss and fragmentation of vital habitats, and threat from pesticides and pollution,” the report adds.
Besides a loss of biodiversity, a reduced bee population could have an adverse effect on the global economy, as about 75 percent of the world’s crops rely on pollination to grow.
“Collapses in populations of wild pollinators have big economic impacts. We are already seeing the effects here – for instance, if wild pollinator populations were healthier there would be more apples on British trees (£5.7 million worth of Gala apples alone),” the report states.
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However, it’s not too late to take action.
“Restoring our bee populations to good health will require many changes, such as reversing fragmentation of wild flower meadows, reducing the effects of chemical pollution, protecting bees from imported diseases, and taking targeted action to bring endangered species back from the brink,” the report advises, adding that over 1,000 species in the U.K. are at the risk of extinction.
Extinction rates are also accelerating across the globe, according to a comprehensive United Nations report published earlier this month.
The report states that around the world, our ecosystem is declining at an “unprecedented” rate largely due to the ways humans have transformed the Earth’s ecosystems — and the rate of extinction is accelerating.
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As a result, 1 million out of the Earth’s estimated 8 million species of animals and plants are currently at risk of extinction — many within just decades.
Those threatened include over 40 percent of amphibian species as well as more than a third of all marine mammals. An estimated 10 percent of insects, which includes bees, are also at risk.
Over a decade ago, seven species of bees in Hawaii were classified as endangered, marking the first time the insect has been protected by federal law.
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