- This article is part a series on Kane County pollinators, contributed by Jessica Mino, resource management coordinator for the Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources.
Bees are in severe decline in Kane County and throughout the United States.
In a study completed by the Center for Biological Diversity, 52 percent of bees native to North America have declining populations, and 24 percent of these native bees are threatened with extinction.
Many of these bees are endemic (meaning they only exist in this geographic region) or have highly restricted ranges. These factors make the bees even more vulnerable to threats occurring where they naturally live.
Put simply, the bees have nowhere else to go.
Native bees are vital for crop and wildflower pollination across the United States; they naturally provide more than $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year just in the United States, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The agricultural pollination services of the bees become even more important as society is challenged with producing enough food for the continuously growing global population.
Why Is The Bee Population Declining?
We have three stressors outlined here for why bees are in decline:
Pesticide use is a major contributor to declining bee populations. This applies to agricultural practices, but also residential pesticide use. Specifically, wildly used neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to harm both honeybees and wild bees, according to the BBC.
Extreme weather events
Unusual weather events that result in drastic temperature changes and altered rainfall patterns cause plants to shift their schedules. When bees come out of hibernation, the flowers they need to feed on are no longer available, having already bloomed and died.
Our native prairies were once a haven for bees. Now much of our landscape is covered by cities and farms, with habitat suitable for our native bees continuing to shrink. These landscapes are also often covered by only a few plant species, lacking the diversity and resources that pollinators need.
- Coming Next Week: What you can do to help the bee population survive and thrive in Kane County.