What can we do to save the bees? (Smithsonian.com)
What can we do to save the bees?
Lexile

The federal government hopes to reverse America's declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations. It wants to make more federal land bee-friendly. It wants to spend more money on research. And consider the use of less pesticides.

Bees are crucial. They pollinate many crops. Scientists say bees have been hurt by a combination of factors. The factors include declining nutrition, mites, disease and pesticides. The federal plan is an "all hands on deck" strategy. It calls on everyone to do what they can to save bees. The insects provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy. That is according to White House science adviser John Holdren.

"Pollinators are struggling," Holdren said in a blog post. He cited a new federal survey. It found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies. That was just in the last year. They later recovered by dividing surviving hives. He also said the number of monarch butterflies that spend the winter in Mexico's forests is down by 90 percent or more. That is over the past two decades. The U.S. government is working with Mexico. The countries want to expand monarch habitats in the southern part of Mexico.

The plan calls for restoring seven million acres of bee habitat. It would happen over the next five years. Numerous federal agencies must be involved. They will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat. Scientists have worried that large land tracts that grow only one crop have hurt bee nutrition.

The plan is not just for the Department of Interior. It has vast areas of land under its control. Agencies such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation will be included. They will have to create bee-friendly landscaping on their properties and in grant-making.

That part of the bee plan got praise from scientists who study bees.

"Here, we can do a lot for bees. And other pollinators," said University of Maryland entomology professor Dennis vanEnglesdorp. He led the federal bee study that found last year's large loss. "This I think is something to get excited and hopeful about. There is really only one hope for bees. And it's to make sure they spend a good part of the year in safe healthy environments. The apparent scarcity of these areas is what's worrying. This could change that."

Jerry Bromenshenk is a bee expert at the University of Montana. He said the effort shows the federal government finally recognizes that land use is key with bees.

"It's a wake-up call," Bromenshenk wrote in an email. "Pollinators need safe havens" that include adequate quantities of high-quality resources for food and habitat. They must be relatively free from toxic chemicals, he wrote. "And that includes pollutants as well as pesticides and other agricultural chemicals."

The administration proposes spending $82.5 million on honeybee research. The money would be spent in the upcoming budget year. That is up $34 million from now.

The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used insecticides that affect the central nervous system. They are called neonicotinoid pesticides. Those have been temporarily banned in Europe. It will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until more study is done the report said. Even then they might not be used.

"They are not taking bold enough action. There's a recognition that there is a crisis," said Lori Ann Burd. She is environmental health director for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. She said the bees cannot wait. She compared more studies on neonicotinoids to going to a second and third mechanic when you've been told the brakes are shot.

The report talks of a fine line. It is said to be between the need for pesticides to help agriculture and the harm they can do to bees and other pollinators.

Lessening "the effects of pesticides on bees is a priority for the federal government," the report said. Both bee pollination and insect control are essential to the success of agriculture," it said.

Critical thinking challenge: How could federal departments such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation have an impact on bees?

Assigned 46 times


COMMENTS (7)
  • florenciabenaventerubio
    5/23/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    Bees are a very important insects to the proper development of the cycle of nature, not only serve to produce honey as most people think.

    Actually, most of the products that are extracted from the earth, or nature, as in fields, orchards, gardens, pesticides are used to make the product perfect and attractive to the consumer, but you do not really know is that not only the product but affects them defenseless insects such as bees, which only follow their instinct which is part of the natural cycle of nature.

    I find it very sad news, because without bees we could live (perhaps the consequences will not be immediately) but the nature unfolds like a chain, where if a factor fails, failing everything ends.

    The initiative is very good, is an excellent solution to this problem, it is good that there conscience of what is happening.

  • galvinc-
    5/26/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    this story is about what we can do save bees I think bees are annoying when they buzz around you and I think it's very interesting when you hear them coming they try to sting you when you disturb them when they are working .
    And I was not sure how they are how to connote honey .

  • annabel1226-yyca
    5/26/2015 - 09:08 p.m.

    Yes, we should save bees and butterflies. Sometimes I see people stepping on bees and spraying water at the bees. Also bees can be soaked by the swimming pools. I once raised a butterfly so I took pictures of me holding them. But I ripped one butterfly's wing and now it can't fly. It was my fault I shouldn't hold it to hard. I do not know if it is alive or dead.

  • John0724-YYCA
    5/26/2015 - 09:57 p.m.

    I agree that the bees are really endangered because long time ago there used to be so many bees but these days I see few bees when there were like thousands I see every day because mostly so many people kill bees today by using pesticides and other harmful chemicals and sometimes some kids kill bees for fun like immature kids in my church. We really need a way to save bees because they are really seful for like pollinating flowers which makes them grow faster.

  • AliannaR-Saw
    5/28/2015 - 12:20 p.m.

    Bees are very important. They help us with the flowers and plants.

  • VictoriaBarrera
    6/19/2015 - 01:06 a.m.

    The text speak about the bees and its declining population, this is by pesticides that are used for crops, pesticides end up killing millions of bees. As we know bees are a primary source for our ecosystem, maintaining pollinate the flowers and trees, while bees feed on pollen that these resources deliver them. If you continue removing the natural places, the bees no longer have as feeding and will not produce the delicious honey. Honey is essential for bees, especially in winter, since they feed on this.
    In my opinion, the bees are helpful, some people use their venom to relieve pains of the bones and others for making honey. Bees help keep our living nature, because is demonstrated that nature without bees would be totally dead and that's not what we want.
    Critical thinking challenge: Federal departments could help save the bees if they implement only places for breeding and care of bees and if they have more places with natural surroundings, free of pesticides so that bees can feed.

  • Camilamuoz
    7/09/2015 - 02:17 p.m.

    The government wants to reverse the declining honeybee, they are dying out because they dont have food and for the pesticides, but the pesticides will be studied because some pesticides are harmful for the bees. The government is trying to protect the bees because they are essential to the pollination of the crops, and to the success of agriculture. To save them the plan consist in restore seven million acres of habitat for bees, and for this plan, the government needs help of agencies like Agencies such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, I think that the agencies would help to protect and care the environment of the bees, to dont admit buildings on that place, and the Department of Transportation would help to dont do roads near of the bees habitat. I think that this initiative it would be benificial for the bees and for us, because we help them to survive and they help us with the pollination of our croops.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT