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European Union votes to save the bees

by Nicholas Mazur - Campus Talk Editor
Fri, Mar 9th 2018 03:00 pm

Imagine a circus performer balancing spinning plates on sticks. Now imagine them balancing more sticks with plates on them on top of the first plates, and then three or four more layers of that, just enough until it feels really ridiculous that one circus performer could balance that many plates on that many sticks. Now imagine them on a unicycle while doing that. That’s what an ecosystem is like.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but not by much. Ecosystems are very delicate things – one slip up and the whole careful order of things can come tumbling down. Bees play a very large role in many ecosystems. Surely you’ve been told this before. We learn about bees in kindergarten, and then the birds and the bees much later. However, I bet you’ve never heard the U.N. talking about bees amongst itself, have you? Well, you certainly about to.

According to The Scientific American, the EU has been discussing bees and pesticides and the harm the latter does to the former. They are expected to vote on a ban for pesticides on flowers and plant life that various forms of bees are known to frequent. Now before we get into what I think, let’s get to know the science of pesticides and bees a little better, let’s see what all the ... buzz is about. Okay fine, I get it, but you try coming up with a bee joke without using “buzz.”

Let’s start with bees. The ones we are primarily talking about are honey bees, of which there are also many varieties. The bees that we think of going from flower to flower are a lot more complex than you might imagine (as most things in nature are). Bees are very specialized. There are the traditional bees we think of, the worker bees, but there is also the queen, as well as male honey bees, who possess no stinger and live only to mate. 

According to The Scientific American, bees are also very intelligent creatures. They can be trained to do things beyond the instincts of pollinating, and can learn things by watching one another, and even improve on methods they learn. Don’t let that fool you, however, Bees have been doing their thing, without issue, for around 150 million years.

According to The Scientific American, The U.N., as of Jan 11, 2017, classified bumble bees as an endangered species. So not only is Europe worried, but the whole world is as well. The EU banned the use of pesticides in 2013, but has recently moved to expand the ban to all plant life outdoors, though pesticides would still be able to be used indoors in greenhouses. 

The EU did not, of course, come to this vote lightly. Pesticides have been an essential part of farming for a long time. They can be very useful in warding off dangerous insects and parasites that have the potential to destroy whole crop yields for farmers and other agricultural endeavours. However, these pesticides can also have harmful effects, like getting into the crop itself and harming consumers, as well as, in this case, hurting insects who are not harmful to the plant life. Bees are extraordinarily helpful in the life cycles of many flowers. Bees unknowignyl promote flower fertilization by taking the neccesary ingredients from flower to flower in their daily travels. Pesticides on plants can be extremely harmful to bees, and thus the ecosystems they help maintain.

So, thanks to science, bees in Europe may have a little less to worry about from now on. Though I’m sure it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or in this case botanist) to figure out pesticides are harmful, I am certainly glad the EU takes bees and ecology so seriously. Wouldn’t it be crazy if the whole world listened to what science said  is best for the very things it studies. I know, a crazy idea, but the bees seem to appreciate it, and I’m sure a lot of other flying, crawling, swimming, slithering creatures out there would appreciate it too.

The U.S., the U.N. and the rest of the world could take a lesson from the EU. Bees, and everything else in the ecosystems of the world, run on a delicate balance. Humans have a great potential to mess up that balance. It’s our responsibility to maintain our part of the balance as well.  The EU gets it; if we don’t give bees the opportunity to do their job, we’ll get ourselves and the rest of the world into serious trouble. If we let bees be, if we give them the opportunity to fill the niche they have filled for longer than we’ve been walking upright, then the balance has the chance to blossom into a pretty sweet deal for us. 

Come on, blossom? Sweet? Well, it’s better than buzz!



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