Projekte 2019

We will survive

For the first time complaints about a mass dying of honeybee colonies in the western world became public in 2003. Beekeepers in America and Europe had high losses of more than 30% of their colonies, in some apiaries all the honeybees were dead.

A violent discussion about the causes for the colony collapse syndrome started, because it was immediately clear that a total loss of all honeybees and therewith a failure of pollination for crops and wild plants would have harvest and economic losses as a result. On the one hand under suspicion was the varroa mite (a parasite destroying bee colonies) and on the other hand it was the total coverage with insecticides and pesticides used in a harvest and profit maximizing industrial agriculture.

Today you can say the honeybees were lucky, because they had beekeepers who recognized their bees dying, were complaining about their economical losses and publicly criticized the causes. Additionally, the honeybee – as an animal which does everything for their next generation, which is known as an extremely diligent and useful honey deliverer and pollinator, is extremely appreciated in a big variety of diverse cultures. This background, as well as an intense deployment of scientific research projects and financial resources has created a public awareness that prevents honeybees from a further worsening of their living conditions. These days the insects who would die out last are the honeybees. In the meantime everybody worldwide has understood that if we want to keep up our living conditions we simply can’t afford a life without honeybees.

But the state building honeybees are only one of over 560 species of wild living solitary bees in Germany. Approximately 20,000 species of wild living solitary bees exist worldwide. The pollination effect of the solitary bees is hardly to overestimate, but nearly none of these species can be used directional in industrial agriculture by farmers or beekeepers. (with the exception of the bumblebee for example) Approximately 50% of the solitary bees in Germany are considered as endangered 26 species are extremely rare and 7% of the wildly living solitary bees have already died out. Under suspicion to be the cause for that phenomena is the growing sector of an industrial agriculture with its huge monocultures and the intense use of insecticides and pesticides. Additionally, nobody is missing the solitary bees, because there is nearly nobody who would know these species or even miss them if they don’t appear.

But possibly the precarious living conditions for honeybees and solitary bees are only the tip of the iceberg. German researchers of the entomology association in Krefeld hit the alarm in 2017. They were publishing their studies of the last 30 years with a frightening result: to be stated is an average decline of all insects in the researched biotopes of 76%. This amount weighs even heavier when we consider that all 63 stations where the data was collected are in nature preservation areas. The research results became popular under the term "windshield effect". Approximately 30 years ago it was usual to clean the windshield of a car every few hundred kilometers from insects. Today, driving through Europe, you don’t have to clean the windshield anymore, because there are no insects left.

If we believe the data of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations we have to state that the honeybee dying as it became known as an ironed word did not happen. On the opposite: the number of honeybee colonies nearly doubled in the period from the 1960s until today. Only there, where the prices for honey and pollination creating problems for beekeepers the number of honeybees is declining. Nevertheless the discussions about the problems honeybees and beekeepers have to face have contributed to a great extend to create awareness for the problems the insects in general in industrial agriculture and may lead to a rethinking about the use insecticides and pesticides in general.