Bees Are On The 'Brink Of Extinction' – But Pesticide Bans Could Help

Bees are paramount to human survival as they help to pollinate and produce more than a third of the food we (and our wildlife) eat – from tomatoes and berries to nuts and teas.

But these food chain guardians are facing threats from global warming, disease and habitat losses.

This week these hazards became even more apparent as, for the first time in US history, a popular family of bumblebee made it onto the endangered species list.

The US Fish and Wildlife service said one of the most common bees in America (the rusty-patched bumblebee) is now "balancing precariously on the brink of extinction."

Over the past two decades, the bumblebee's population fell by 87%, their research found.

It comes just three months after the first ever bees (seven Hawaiian species) also received state-wide protection under the Endangered Species Act.

"Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction," US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Tom Melius writes.

"Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrublands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand.”

The rusty-patched bumblebee pollinates important crops such as tomatoes, cranberries and peppers. Their value to US agriculture is estimated to be $3 billion per year.

Diseases, parasites, habitat losses and climate change are said to be behind their decline, along with the growing use of pesticides across both America and Europe.

Greenpeace has since called on the EU to expand its ban on neonicotinoid pesticides after a recent study revealed the devastating impact these products have on agriculture and the environment.

"It has become evident that they pose significant risks to many organisms, not just bees,” the University of Sussex report states.

In the US, honey bees contribute over $14 billion to crop production and over a billion jobs depend on pollinators.

Read more -> Bees Are Getting Too Fucked Up On Pesticides To Pollinate Our Food Supply

Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com