What can we do to save the bees?
What can we do to save the bees? (Smithsonian.com)
What can we do to save the bees?
Lexile: 930L

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

Bees are crucial to pollinate many crops. Scientists say bees have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease and pesticides. The federal plan is an "all hands on deck" strategy. It calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens 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 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 to expand monarch habitats in the southern part of that country.

The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat. It would happen over 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. 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 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," 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."

University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk 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, 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. That is up $34 million from now.

The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used 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, 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. 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 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?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/what-can-we-do-save-bees/

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Assigned 147 times

  • alexisb-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 05:39 p.m.

    Even though I'm not a fan of these creatures, I understand that we do need them. Besides, they usually don't bother any of us unless provoked. They're usually just doing their job and mind their business. We should use less pesticides and create better environments for them to live. Without them, things could get hard so let's preserve them while we can.

  • devinm-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 06:33 p.m.

    I don't think we should save the bees. I'd be glad if all the bees died . That is just one less pain I have to worry about .

  • CristobalSepulveda
    5/25/2015 - 07:02 p.m.

    I think that bees might bring out a stinging sensation of fear in some, but the little critters play a vital role in our everyday life. Through pollination, bees help produce many of our specialty crops like almonds, berries, fruits and vegetables. It's estimated that bees are responsible for about one in every three bites of food only in the United States, or at least that Google told me. That's a crop value of $15 billion to $18 billion. We need to save the bees!

  • ShelbyD-Kut
    5/25/2015 - 08:04 p.m.

    Bees are dying out... I remember reading about this last year. I remember that my teacher said that bee keepers could keep the bees and kind of keep them safe... I don't really like bees but they are a beautiful creation and they help us a lot so lets save the bees! :D

  • CaseyS-Kut
    5/25/2015 - 08:59 p.m.

    WOW!!! over $15 billion in U.S value. it does make me think though, if bees start to become more rare in the us, that means less honey. we could still get honey, it would just half to bee imported from other countries.

  • NoahB-Kut
    5/25/2015 - 09:07 p.m.

    I honestly hate bee's but since the world of bee's in coming to a end, then the best thing us humans can do is protect more animal life so animals and insects don't become extinct.

  • jasmined-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 09:45 p.m.

    I think it is great they are taking steps towards conserving and saving the bees and if they go through with their plans of conservation, it may help natures balance in general.

  • keimoriec-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 10:00 p.m.

    I believe that the federal government should restore the 7 million acres of their habitat. Because since we the people need use of the bees we need to find a way to bring more. Because overtime the population of bees are starting to die down.

  • jacobc-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 10:55 p.m.

    A huge problem that people need to realize is that honey bees are important as the air we breathe. Think about it, honey bees pollinate our plants... with out bees our plants wouldn't pollinate causing massive collapse in an ecosystem. as a matter of fact, what the bees are going through is called Environmental Collapse Syndrome. i may be wrong on the name but that's what it is... ish

  • emmapad5
    5/25/2015 - 11:57 p.m.

    Its very important that our Federal Government and the EPA take action along with the Department of housing and urban development to help the bee and monarch populations. Bee's are dying off and we can't afford to have them become extinct. Bees are an important part of our ecosystem as well as our economy. The article says that "The federal plan is an "all hands on deck" strategy. It calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens 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." We need everyone to do their part if we want to stop this crisis.
    Some Advocacy groups like the Center for Biological Diversity are saying that the Government is not taking enough action to help the bees. Toxic chemicals, pesticides and unhealthy farming practices are hurting the bee population. Without the bees to pollinate all of these industries will probably suffer. They are thinking about short term profits instead of long term health and well-being of our ecosystem.

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