• Question: by what year do you think there will be no bees left?

    Asked by myersh to Daniela, Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 24 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Mark Hodson

      Mark Hodson answered on 24 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh,

      I’m hopeful that now the EU has banned a particular pesticide called neonicotinoids bee popluations will stop declining. It’s hard to be sure as all the chemical interactions are complicated but it does appear that this chemical has been damaging bee populations and is, at least in part, responsible for the decreases in bee populations that we’ve seen recently. However if you look through the last one to two hundred years there are often reports of losses of bee populations so the reductions we see at the moment might be part of a natural cycle.

      Longer term (hundreds of years) the climate may well change in a way that causes bees to become extinct. This would be serious. In parts of China pesticide use has wiped out bees and now the farmers have to pollinate all their plants using feathers -it is an incredible human effort that bees would normally do naturally for them.



    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 24 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh,
      No one can predict when there will be no bees left. This is because no one knows how quickly they are dying and why they are dying. Some think it is pesticides (the insect repellenet we put on food to make our food yummy and safe), some think its because of the signal from our phones, others think its an alien bacteria (not so sure about this lol).

      But lets do some sums…..The current research has shown us that there were 5.5 million bee colonies in 1950 to 2.5 million bee colonies in 2007. The a 3 million drop in 57 years. So that 52631 bee colonies dying in a year. So if they continue to die at that rate, we would only have 47 years left of bees being alive.

      But it might happen quicker than that because we are using more pesticides and phones than ever before. So if one of these is affecting a bees survival, then I predict bees will die out in the next 40 years 🙁

      But if every single bee in the world just disappeared tomorrow…. then humans would only be able to survive for four more years. :S
      This is because bees pollinate a lot of our foods, so things like fruit, milk (because the food cows eat need pollination by bees), fruit juice, seeds, butter etc!

      But don’t worry too much, because there are lots of scientists out there trying to find an answer


    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 24 Jun 2013:

      Hi myersh,

      It’s important to point out that there are a lot of species of bee, and not all of them are in danger of going extinct. In fact, in America, some species of bees are actually doing pretty well and their numbers are increasing. Many of these are species that were taken over to America from Europe at some point in the past.

      Honeybees are the ones that appear to be going extinct. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s any clear-cut answer to your question. There are loads of potential reasons for the massive drop in bee numbers including bacterial or viral infections, possible genetic issues, and pesticides.

      Some scientists think that pesticides are the main cause of the problem. To my mind, this makes sense. Bees are disappearing when Colony Collapse Disorder occurs – this is where most of the bees in a colony just disappear. When this happens, other insects like moths avoid the abandoned colonies for a while, which suggests that there is some kind of chemical putting them off.

      So the European Union have banned pesticides for the next 2 years to see what effect it has. If the bees start to recover, great – the bees might be saved! If not, the year that they go extinct will depend on how quickly we work out what the problem is and whether we can do anything about it!