Questions about bees and pesticides

by Tyler Van Landingham, Sustainable Plant Systems major

In today’s agriculture we use pesticides in order to achieve higher yields or excellent playing conditions on the golf course. Some people may not even think about the consequences or even know what we are applying. I believe that these behaviors have led to a severe decrease to the bee population. The use of neonicotiniods is affecting bee colonies everywhere. These chemicals disrupt the bees’ sense of direction so they ultimately get lost and die. They also may stress the bees, making them more susceptible to varroa mites, which can harm the bees and also serve as a vector for many serious diseases that are fatal to bees.

Bees are responsible for pollinating two-thirds of our food crops and contribute to $117 Billion dollars to the economy. The continuing decline of the bees can only have negative effects. Using pesticides to increase yields may actually lead to the decline of yields if this insect dies off. Without their pollinating efforts what can we turn to next? But if we stop using pesticides, what will happen to our yield then? With an increasing population, an increasing demand for food, and a declining bee population, how are we going to sustain ourselves?

This blog post was an assignment for  Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.