As stated in this article, bees need help. Right now, we can take every bit of good news about bees, but sadly, there are bad news as well. Scientists stated that there is a widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades in Britain.
The survey, which involved 353 wild bee and hoverfly species, concluded that the insects have deteriorated. They’ve been lost from a quarter of the places they were found in 1980 with just one out of ten expanding their extent. Additionally, the average number of species fell by 11.
Even though there’s a small group of 22 bee species, which is an important pollinator to some crops, saw a rise in range, scientists still found that there are severe declines in other bee species from 2007. This dramatic drops of pollinating insect populations has made researchers become more and more worried about the possible collapse of nature’s ecosystem.
Gary Powney, the research leader at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, said that the increased range is good news, but he also said, “They are a relatively small group of species,”
“Therefore, with species having declined overall, it would be risky to rely on this group to support the long-term food security for our country. If anything happens to them in the future there will be fewer other species to ‘step up’ and fulfil the essential role of crop pollination,”
“Non-crop pollinators are also vital for a healthy countryside rich in biodiversity; not only because of their crucial role in pollinating wildflowers, but as a key food resource for other wildlife. Wildflowers and pollinators rely on each other for survival. Losses in either are a major cause for concern when we consider the health and beauty of our natural environment.”
Scientists analyzed more than 700,000 sightings of pollinating insects across Britain from 1980 to 2013, trying to map out the range of bee and hoverfly species over time. While the study didn’t allow the assessment of number of insects, some researchers think populations have fallen faster than range.
The sightings were done by expert naturalists in the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS) and the UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme. Mike Edwards of BWARS said, “All important studies of animal population trends, such as this latest research, rely entirely on the wildlife recorders who go out and record sightings of different species in their area,”
“Therefore, we would encourage more people to take part in wildlife recording, so we can increase our understanding of how wildlife is responding to environmental change.”
Why is this happening?
As you might know, we basically can’t live without pollinating insects. They’re vital to human food security as well as wildlife, since they’re both prey and pollinators of wild plants. Powneysaid, “The declines in Britain can be viewed as a warning about the health of our countryside.”
He called for more volunteers to take part in the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme: “Their contribution is vital for us to understand what is happening in our landscape.”
Powney added, “We used cutting-edge statistical methods to analyse a vast number of species observations, revealing widespread differences in distribution change across pollinating insects. There is no one single cause for these differences, but habitat loss is a likely key driver of the declines.”
It is true that the biggest factors of this decline are the loss of wild habitats and the frequent use of pesticides in farms. Matt Shardlow from the conservation charity Buglife stated that unless the pesticide approval process was improved to help bee safety and green subsidies were targeted to create corridors that connect wild spaces, we can expect the declines to continue or worsen.
So we know that pesticides are bad for pollinating insects. However, the newly discovered analysis suggests that the big drop might be caused by the climate change. It’s the warmth, to be specific. Some species prefer cooler temperatures and when it gets warmer, they have less climatically suitable landscapes.
Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex said, “Previous studies have described declines in UK butterflies, moths, carabid beetles, bees and hoverflies – this new study confirms that declines in insects are ongoing.” Goulson added that if the losses are indeed because of climate change, humanity will expect far more rapid declines in the future, “as climate change has barely got started”.
Claire Carvell of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and a co-author of the study said that multiple environmental pressures leading to changing patterns of occurrence in bees and hoverflies throughout Britain.
“There is an urgent need for more robust data on the patterns and causes of pollinator declines. While this analysis sends us a warning, the findings support previous studies suggesting that conservation actions, such as wildlife-friendly farming and gardening, can have a lasting, positive impact on wild pollinators in rural and urban landscapes. However, these need further refining to benefit a wider range of species,”
“In addition to recording species sightings, more standardised monitoring of pollinator numbers is required at a national level and a new UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme has been set up to do just this,” Carvell said.