The UNDP Aral Sea Programme has this year provided 30 bee keeping packages including bee hives to enterprises in Kanlikul and Amudarya districts of Karakalpakstan.
As part of her review of achievements made by UNDP Uzbekistan and to pave the way for future initiatives the UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark (former Prime Minister of New Zealand) visited on October 18th the ‘Khojanazar Akhun’ bee-keeping project in Kanlikul to see the successful project.
Humans must change behaviour to save bees, vital for food production
Bee colonies have been collapsing in many parts of the globe, and this potentially disastrous decline in bees, a vital pollinating element in food production for the growing global population, is likely to continue unless humans profoundly change their ways, from the use of insecticides to air pollution.
It is known that of the main 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food and over 70 are pollinated by bees.
Some 20,000 flowering plant species upon which many bee species depend for food could be lost over the coming decades without greater conservation efforts. Since the 1980s, there has been a 70 per cent drop in key wildflowers among them the mint, pea and perennial herb families.
Meanwhile the increasing use of chemicals in agriculture is being found to damage bees, weakening their immune systems, with laboratory studies showing that some insecticides and fungicides can act together to be 1,000 times more toxic to bees. They can also affect the sense of direction, memory and brain metabolism, and herbicides and pesticides may reduce the availability of plants bees need for food and for the larval stages of some pollinators.
Air pollution, too is interfering with the ability of bees to find flowering plants and thus food, with scents in industrial countries that could travel over 800 metres in the 1800s now reaching less than 200 metres from a plant. Electromagnetic fields from sources such as power lines might also be changing the behaviour of bees who are sensitive as they have small abdominal crystals that contain lead.
Another factor concerns parasites and pests, such as the Varroa mite which feeds on bee fluids, and the small hive beetle, which damages honeycombs, stored honey and pollen. Endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, it has spread to North America and Australia and is expected to reach Europe. Common honey Bees species are also be suffering from competition by “alien species” such as the Africanized bee and the Asian hornet.
Looming over all this is climate change which, left unaddressed, may aggravate the situation in various ways, including by changing the flowering times of plants and shifting rainfall patterns, in turn affecting the quality and quantity of nectar supplies.
The way humanity manages or mismanages its pollinators, will play an important part in defining our collective future.