Hello to everybody! Sergey here, coming out from a loooong blogging pause. It is not that we at Bee Smart Tech do not like to interact with our frequent readers, but we have been extremely busy developing our product and customer base. We will from now on post more frequently about the happening around our company, keeping you updated with our progress and achievements. However, the first post after the pause will be about those “nay-sayers” who are trying to convince the general public, that bees are not in danger and we should worry about them. To really summarize the long post below, I would like to say that “YES BEES ARE IN DANGER and yes we should be super worried about it. Do I think that the bees are going to get extinct? – No! And even if they do, there is going to be another equally efficient pollinator which will replace them. For that I am sure, but my guess is that it is going to take another 3 million years.
I felt compelled to write this post because recently 3 different articles have been sent to me and I deeply disagree with most of the points they make.
To me personally, the bees are fascinating because of their agility. They have inhabited our planet for quite some time and they have learned to survive in pretty harsh environments. However, the super organism of a honey bee cluster (or a colony) is far too complex to be fully understood with the limited amount of data we have on our hands to analyse. You see, a strong colony holds upwards of 60000 bees and 20000 of them will go out of the beehive every sunny day about 100-150 times and that’s upwards of 2 million trips a day. With this intense traffic, and the ability to reach up to 11.5 km radius of land from their hive, visiting as many flowers as possible, bees are bound to introduce tens of different pathogens into their home. And this is why it gets complex. This is why it is amazingly hard to conduct thorough academic research on them. I am going to suggest you read this article to illustrate my point:
Study paints a confused picture of how insecticides are affecting bees
Back to the suggested articles. The “Scientific American” one is far too old to be relevant although frankly, 2008 was the weakest point for the phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). I have mentioned before, that I really prefer to stay away from this term, as it is normally used for collectively gathering all different factors, influencing the bees under one vague name.
The article from “Agro Professional” makes a couple of great points.
1. The overall number of beehives in the world has been relatively growing in a somewhat steady manner since 1961.
2. US has retained almost the same number of beehives since 2001.
To address both of those statements, I would like to point out that honeybees have been domesticated relatively soon. Why? Of course, because of their sweet natural sugary product but down the line, people started to observe that their efforts in growing plant species for food were far more successful in areas where bees were present. This is the reason why bees became an inseparable part of the agricultural sector almost from its birth. Even now that commercial almond growers cover vast areas of land, bees are being trucked onto the field to help maximize the production. So this would mean that with the growing population of the planet, the demand for food increases and with that – the demand for pollinators. And it is not nearly met.
Reference: According to data from UN and HYDE, the world population in 1971 was approximately 3.5 billion people (almost half the current number). However, the number of beehives in the world in 1971 was about 55 000 000. Compare this number to the almost 80 000 000 we have today.To me, this clearly illustrates that the number of domesticated honey bee families is not growing fast enough.
Before I address the “Forbes” article, I would like to point out that Bee Smart Technologies firmly stands behind and understands the needs for sustainable use of GMO cultures and regulated pesticides. It is not something we, as humanity, can choose at this time. This is just how agriculture is structured today and this is what provides the food security for the 7 billion people inhabiting the planet. Our company does not point fingers but strives to acquire enough data, so that we can start providing answers. The complexity of the matter requires huge amounts of data, continuously analysed by a layer of artificial intelligence, helping the researchers by saving time and identifying patterns.
So back to the article. It has been written by Henry Miller – a person of controversies. He has been previously known for denying climate change, lobbying for Big Tobacco and fiercely protecting GMOs and pesticides, even DDT (Miller has advocated for restoring the use of DDT as “an old, cheap, and safe way” to prevent the spread of malaria.) Here is a bit more info on Miller Although I wouldn’t go as far as saying that neonicotinoid pesticides are harmless to the bees, I do not think that there is any relevant data that strongly suggest that they are the worst enemy to the pollinators.
While it is true that the mortality rate of managed honeybee colonies has dropped from 44% (2015-2016) to 31% (2016-2017), it is important to state that US beekeepers tend to recoup a large number of lost colonies by trading with Australia (being a huge island, the continent of Australia has kept a relatively low negative pathogen level and thus managed to keep healthier breeds of honeybees. Also, the spring season in AU when beekeepers are capable of producing additional queen bees more easily, responds to the late autumn (in the south of US), when it is still not too cold to repopulate a beehive. This makes it a perfect trade.)
At Bee Smart Technologies we stand for sustainable beekeeping by a constant flow of crucial information. Beekeepers have the necessary knowledge to mitigate virtually any problem, which may arise in a hive, but only if is diagnosed before a certain critical point. By digitizing the beehives, we allow the beekeepers to keep healthy bees and maximize their profits.
On top of that, we are going to provide some conclusive data to all those debating on the subject “What is killing the bees?”. And even though, I anticipate, we are going to be able to turn back one day and state “don’t worry about the bees – they’re fine”, this day is still far in the future.
I hope this wasn’t too boring for whoever managed to reach the end 🙂