No bees, no agriculture, no life… | Universidad Zamorano
The 10 most relevant fungi in phytopathology
7 July, 2017

No bees, no agriculture, no life…

Author: Ricardo Díaz, M.Sc. in Tropical Beekeeping, graduate class 2015
ricardo15105@yahoo.com

“The intensive use of agrochemicals is the basis of the collapse disorder of the colonies, which is a phenomenon that endangers the survival of a key species for biodiversity on earth; Apis mellifera, and other pollinators such as stingless bees “-Meliponini

Although pollination can occur due to biotic (living organisms) or abiotic (water or wind) factors, the vast majority of flowering plants depend on living organisms, mainly insect pollination. Bees are the insects par excellence that participate in this endeavor, so they have great economic and ecologic influence in agroecosystems (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO 2014). According to National Agricultural Statistics Service-NASS, in conjunction with members of the beekeeping industry of the United States of America, pollination revenues in 2012 were estimated at US$655.6 million and were responsible for nearly three billion dollars in fruits and vegetables produced each year (United States Department of Agriculture-USDA). Without bees, we would not have food; however, these vital insects are in danger worldwide because of the neonicotinoid pesticides that are still used in many countries.

At the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, the world apicultural community learned about an unusual new event. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon that has the scientific community puzzled and endangers the survival of several key species for biodiversity on earth: bees. For more than a decade, the relationship of neonicotinoid pesticides with the rapid and worrying decrease in bee populations worldwide has been research. At the beginning of 2018, the European Food Safety Authority assured with much scientific evidence at hand that the use of neonicotinoids does represent a risk for both wild and domestic bees.

As a result of this scientific evidence, the European Union agreed to eliminate immediately the use of three compounds of the neonicotinoid family: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are widely used in different crops in Honduras.

A very important characteristic of these pesticides is that they are persistent in the environment, which means that they can remain in the soil for several years. Plants that grow on soils previously exposed to these pesticides can absorb them through their roots, offer it in the nectar of their flowers and turn it into a danger for the bees.

The decision taken by the European Union must be considered by other countries that use agrochemicals. These agrochemicals are used daily in many of the export crops and national consumption: rice, banana, zucchini, onion, citrus, chayote, orange, pineapple, tomato, bananas, melon, watermelon, cucumber, papaya, and sugar cane, among others.

As the European authorities point out, the bees´ health is related to biodiversity, food production and environmental health. Honduras has more than 450 species of bees among which 42 are of native bees without stings. These species are relevant because they are the only pollinators of more than 75% of the native flora.

Knowing that Honduras is a country rich in biodiversity should motivate us to evaluate the impact of pesticides on wildlife and native fauna as well as to devise ways to ensure the perpetuity of these species that benefit us so much.

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