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 by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more money on research and considering the use of less pesticides.

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

"Pollinators are struggling," Holdren said in a blog post. He cited a new federal survey that found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies last year, although 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 over the past two decades. The U.S. government is working with Mexico to expand monarch habitats in the southern part of that country.

The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat because 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, which has vast areas of land under its control. Agencies that wouldn't normally be thought of, such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, will have to include 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," University of Maryland entomology professor Dennis vanEnglesdorp, who 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."

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

"From my perspective, it's a wake-up call," Bromenshenk wrote in an email. "Pollinators need safe havens, with adequate quantities of high-quality resources for food and habitat, relatively free from toxic chemicals. And that includes pollutants as well as pesticides and other agricultural chemicals."

The administration proposes spending $82.5 million on honeybee research in the upcoming budget year, up $34 million from now.

The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been temporarily banned in Europe. It will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until more study is done, if then, the report said.

"They are not taking bold enough action; there's a recognition that there is a crisis," said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. She said the bees cannot wait, comparing 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 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, as both bee pollination and insect control are essential to the success of agriculture," the report 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 17 times


COMMENTS (27)
  • coreyong-Koc
    5/22/2015 - 03:23 p.m.

    Well before Andre Agassi caused a stir with his stone-washed denim shorts at the French Open, the clay courts at Roland Garros in Paris were a sporting catwalk for fashion experimentation.
    Tennis fashion has developed from the corset-less, flowing dress worn by "La Divine" Suzanne Lenglen and designed by French creator Jean Patou to the black-and-red outfit that Venus Williams wore and designed herself five years ago.
    The tennis stadium located in the chic western district of the French capital has always been a fashion hotspot.
    "Players want to show their personality through their clothes," former player Tatiana Golovin told The Associated Press. Now an exhibition is recounting the links between fashion and tennis at the Roland Garros museum.
    The exhibit is called "Game, Set and Fashion." It has more than 60 pieces of women's and men's clothing on display, some that have never been shown before, as well as pictures, posters and a focus on the fashion designers who made tennis fashion.
    There are dresses and shorts, some dating back to 1890. Also included are a lavish male tennis coat, autographed outfits by the likes of Steffi Graf and Williams and a collection of tennis shoes.
    The 27-year-old Golovin, who ended her playing career early because of back problems, is the exhibition ambassador. She says she enjoyed wearing pretty clothes when she was on court. But she would not have sported Venus black-and-red outfit that brought more attention than her play at the 2010 French Open.
    "I was a pundit for TV at the time and I remember the dress well," Golovin said.
    Golovin is a fan of the tennis fashion from the 1960s, a period when British designer Ted Tinling created dresses with innovative shapes, frills and furbelows.
    "The tennis fashion in the 60's was really audacious," Golovin said. "The dresses were already very short, there were lace shorts. There was elegance, but it was daring at the same time. Outfits are less feminine today, more sporty."

  • franklynm-Koc
    5/23/2015 - 03:24 p.m.

    Critical Thinking - i guess by the way the bee's are processed by the company's. or they way that are transported and what environments they are in. There is a lot of things that come into play when taking this task. I'm not sure exactly how these things work so i cant answer the question fully

  • jennaw-Koc
    5/23/2015 - 03:57 p.m.

    The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat because 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, which has vast areas of land under its control. Agencies that wouldn't normally be thought of, such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, will have to include bee-friendly landscaping on their properties and in grant-making.

  • nylienc-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 01:18 a.m.

    We could start by saving bees by reducing pesticides but there are other things. For example pollution especially air pollution and obviously by making sure certain enviorments are safe.

  • jorgeh-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 12:00 p.m.

    I personally hate bees, id be happy if we just got rid of them. Im allergic to bee's and hunny so i typically don't care for them. Ive been stung by bee's so many times its not even funny.

  • havenr-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 12:33 a.m.

    Bees are extremely essential to human life. If the bee population were to go extinct then we would be in a horrible state because they keep our oxygen levels on this earth at a great level and if that were to change then life as we know it would be no more.

  • haileyr-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 01:06 a.m.

    I think it's a great idea to help the bees and butterflies because of how much they help our environment out. I don't see why people hurt them and want to tear down their environments, they help us live they help plants, and we eat those plants. So instead of hurting them we should help them.

  • vincet-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 01:20 a.m.

    The impact that these corporations have is that they spray chemicals that are harmful to bees. If we deplete the bee population there will be a large famine.

  • levim-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 01:51 a.m.

    Most people don't understand how crucial honeybees are to the environment. yes some are scared and allergic to bees (as am I) but we need bees to pollinate pants to grow fruits and to aid in flowers blooming.

  • amanq-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 08:47 a.m.

    It is crucial we save the honey bee. Not only do they make a natural resource we all use or may have in our homes, they pollinate plants. Pollination is important to the survival of many plants and so a living organism is the cheapest and best way to solve the pollination problem. Bees must be kept alive not only for the survival of their species but also for the survival of ours. They provide too great a benefit to us to let them die

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT