Biologists have found that the species diversity of wild bees and bumblebees compared to 1990 around the world has decreased by about 25%. An article with the results of their research was published by the scientific journal One Earth.
“Something incomprehensible is happening with bees. Something needs to be done with them right now. We cannot wait for the moment when we are absolutely sure of why they are dying out. Politicians must be convinced of the need to protect bees from extinction today,” – says one of the authors of the study, a biologist from the National University of Comaue (Argentina) Eduardo Zattara.
In recent years, domestic and wild bees have been decreasing throughout the planet. In particular, in North America, wild bees have decreased by about a third, and domestic relatives and bumblebees have decreased even more.
The exact reasons for the extinction of bees are not yet known. Environmentalists suggest that this is due to both global warming and new diseases and parasites, such as ticks from the genus Varroa, wing deformity virus and the mysterious “colony collapse syndrome”, due to which workers abandon their queens and leave the hives en masse.
In a new study, Zattara and his colleagues set out to track how the species diversity of bees across the planet changed from 1950 to 2020. To do this, scientists used data collected by participants in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) project.
Scientists analyzed how often different types of bees and bumblebees appeared in naturalist records for each year. It turned out that over the past three decades, they have become much smaller, despite the fact that more volunteers are joining the research, and access to data storage systems is getting better.
According to the researchers, this trend affected different families and genera of bees differently. For example, the species diversity of widespread bees from the family of halictids decreased by 17%, and for rare insects from the family Melittids, which live in the north and east of Africa, it fell by 40%.
In general, according to Zattara and his colleagues, the results of the study confirm that the number and species diversity of bees are decreasing not only in certain regions and countries of the world, but also in the planet as a whole. Scientists hope that the UN and other international organizations will begin to pay more attention to this situation and begin to do something to slow it down.