Monday, October 17, 2022
Climate change increases challenges for bees and other pollinators important to agriculture and our food system
|A ground-nesting bee (Rob Cruickshank/Flickr)|
Humans aren’t the only animals suffering from extreme weather likely worsened by climate change. Extreme drought in the western U.S. and extreme rain in the Northeast have made it tough on the nation’s pollinators, writes Jennie L. Durant for The Conversation, a platform for journalistic writing by academics.
Extreme weather “likely also affected wild and native bees. And unlike managed colonies, these important species did not receive supplements to buffer them through harsh conditions,” Durant reports. The Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and pollinator experts meet annually to assess the status “of these important insects, birds, bats and other species,” Durant writes. “One clear takeaway from this year’s meeting was that climate change has become a new and formidable stressor for bees, potentially amplifying previously known issues in ways that scientists can’t yet predict but need to prepare for.”
Globally, pollinators contribute an estimated $235 billion to $577 billion annually to agriculture.
Bee populations already suffer from “what beekeepers call the ‘four Ps’: parasites, pathogens, pesticides and poor nutrition, as well as habitat loss for wild and native bees,” Durant writes. Climate change could increase the challenges to bees. Some studies have already shown “that climate change is disrupting seasonal connections between bees and flowers.” Extreme rain can disrupt bees’ foraging patterns and wildfire and floods may destroy their habitat.