In a combination of factors, including habitat

In the article, “Pesticide
may account for bee decline”, the author, Margaret Munro (2012), explains that
the use of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, has directly caused the
decline of bees in Canada. Unlike the majority of pesticides, neonicotinoids are
applied to the seed before planting. As the plant grows, the pesticide is integrated
into the plant’s tissues and flowers. Therefore, when the bee pollinates the
flower, the pesticide is collected by the bee along with the pollen and nectar.
In a study conducted in France, honeybees were given a sub-lethal dose of
neonicotinoids and about 43 percent of the bees did not return to their hive.
This suggested that pesticides negatively affect bees’ homing abilities and
their sense of direction. Pesticides also affect bees’ memory and reproduction
as well as it causes bees to produce fewer queens resulting in a lower survival
rate of bee colonies. The take home message of this article is that pesticides
negatively affect the functioning of bees, ultimately leading to the drastic
decline of bees.

            Question:
The article suggests that pesticides is one of the factors contributing to bee
decline – what are the other factors?

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            Recent
primary literature suggests that the decline of bees is due to a combination of
factors, including habitat loss and parasites. Potts et al. (2010) outline that
habitat loss, as a result of urbanization and agriculture, has been a long-term
factor contributing to the decline of bees globally. The conversion of natural
habitats, populated with a variety of flowers, to highways and buildings has directly
destroyed bee colonies as well as it has decreased the amount of nesting and
nutritional resources available for bees (Potts et al. 2010). Also, as more
natural habitats are converted to farmland, which is used to grow one type of
crop, the diversity of flowers available for bees to feed on is reduced (Conte
et al. 2010).  With the low availability
and diversity of flowers, bees suffer from lack of nutrition ultimately resulting
in death (Potts et al. 2010). In addition, the parasite that has led to the decline
of bees are Varroa mites (Conte et al. 2010). Varroa mites originated from Asia
and were once rare, however, through the years, bee hives all over the world became
infested with these parasites (Conte et al. 2010). Varroa mites feed on adult
bees and broods – the embryo of a bee – and suck their hemolymph, which is the
bee’s circulatory fluid (Conte et al. 2010). This weakens the bee’s immune
system as well as it interferes with their organ development (Potts et al.
2010). With a compromised immune system, bees are more vulnerable to viruses
transmitted by Varroa mites. The
most common virus called Deformed Wing Virus, causes bees to form a shortened
abdomen and disfigured wings (Conte et al. 2010). The combined effect of
a compromised immune system and body malformations shortens a bee’s lifespan. To
be specific, Varroa mites have been known to cause the destruction of an entire
bee colony within six months to two years after the infestation (Conte et al.
2010).

            The
newspaper article by Margaret Munro focused on the use of pesticides as the
main factor causing the decline of bees. However, recent primary literature indicates
that the death of bees is not primarily due to the use of pesticides but habitat
loss and the infestation of Varroa mites are also major factors (Potts et al.
2010). The articles
suggest that each factor did not independently contribute to the drastic decline
of bees, instead a combination of these factors has led to the widespread reduction
of bees. Therefore, Munro’s information is not extremely accurate as she
failed to mention the other contributors of bee decline and she falsely claimed
that pesticide use is the main factor. With the new information provided by the
primary articles, it is implied that saving the bees is not as simple as just
banning the use of pesticides as Munro suggests. Instead, bee decline is a much
more complex issue and in order to prevent the further decline of bees, each
factor must be targeted. Specific policies and regulations must be established
to provide nutritional environments for bees to grow and thrive as well as to
reduce their exposure to parasites and pesticides.

            In
conclusion, Munro clearly conveys to the readers that the most important
contributor to bee decline is pesticide use. However, Potts et al. (2010) and
Conte et al. (2010) prove that the drastic reduction in the number of bees is
due to the combined effect of many factors, including habitat loss and Varroa
mites along with pesticide use. Recent primary literature provides a new perspective
on the bee decline issue
as it suggests that in order to save the bees and promote their growth, each
factor contributing to the demise of bees must be addressed, rather than
focusing on one particular contributor.

 

 

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