By ANA PHELAN, age 10

Many beekeepers think the use of new types of pesticides called neonicotinoids is the main reason why entire bee colonies are dying. PHOTO: Brigitte Wohack
Many beekeepers think the use of new types of pesticides called neonicotinoids is the main reason why entire bee colonies are dying. PHOTO: Brigitte Wohack

Most plants depend on pollination to reproduce. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male to the female parts of a flower so it can form seeds and produce more plants. Most plants need pollinators to move the pollen. The main pollinators are bees, butterflies, moths and flies. Bees are the most important pollinators in most parts of the world.

Studies have shown a big decline in the bee population since 2006. Honeybees from beekeepers have been declining throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. This decline is called Colony Collapse Disorder, and it has wiped out about 10 million beehives over the past seven years. Scientists think the reasons for this are the use of pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and bad nutrition.

Bee pollinating a thistle in Glacier National Park, Montana. PHOTO: Kathryn Schlechter
Bee pollinating a thistle in Glacier National Park, Montana. PHOTO: Kathryn Schlechter

“The problem with the bee decline is that it is very difficult to pinpoint one specific thing that is wrong,” said Gary Rondeau, a beekeeper from Eugene, OR. “Beekeepers always lose some colonies, especially over the winter. Last year I lost all five of my beehives. That was unusually bad.”

Many beekeepers think the use of new types of pesticides called neonicotinoids is the main reason why entire bee colonies are dying. Bees collect nectar from plants that have been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and herbicides that are toxic to them. They bring these poisons back to their hives when they collect the nectar and pass it on to other bees.

Bees are critical because they help plants move the pollen so there can be more plants, which include the plants that grow the food we eat. Our food sources depend on keeping bees healthy so that they can continue to do this important job.