Some 3500 million years ago, on planet Earth there was an event that completely transformed it until our days, the emergence of photosynthesis. A planet with hardly any oxygen, began to transform the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen, thanks to the energy supplied by the sun through photosynthesis. Before this change, the climate of planet Earth only depended on physical factors, with the emergence of photosynthesis and the colonization of aerobic organisms, the climate was cushioned by biological factors.
Planet Earth is influenced by all living organisms and the man who inhabits it, which is complicated to know to what degree we humans are influencing it. With the emergence of industrialization, and the massive change of the natural space, man may be in recent decades exerting a strong pressure on the planet and as a consequence, is occurring among other facts, rising temperatures, natural disasters and extinctions of other living beings, and among them could soon be wild bees and honeybees producing honey.
If you want to know about the damage we are causing to nature, you may be interested in reading this other article: Environmental problems.
Definition of climate change
Climate change, as its name suggests, is the change in the atmospheric conditions of the planet Earth.
The planet Earth has suffered throughout its history hundreds of climatic changes, because its climatic conditions are always changing. We are currently in a climate change, and this change is leading us to higher temperatures. The rise in temperatures leads to an increase in sea level and the melting of glaciers.
As in any change, living beings have to adapt to that change, and some organisms are favored and others not. In the case of bees, let’s see how climate change affects them.
Consequences of climate change
Among the effects that you have more important, they are the following ones:
Increase in extreme weather phenomena.
Sea level rise.
Extinction of fauna and flora
Disappearance of glaciers
Increase in diseases and epidemics
The increase in temperatures:
The increase in the combustion of raw materials to obtain energy produces a large quantity of greenhouse gases that are causing the earth to increase its average temperature. These gases do not leave the heat that comes to us from the sun to salt, and as a consequence, the temperatures increase.
Increase in extreme weather events:
As temperatures rise, storms and droughts become more frequent and more devastating, mainly due to the loss of plant life that cushions the physical factors that affect the climate.
Sea level rise
As temperatures rise, glaciers melt, and their water ends up in the sea, thus raising sea level. Catastrophic effects for coastal and low-lying areas.
Extinction of fauna and flora:
Extreme meteorological phenomena, and the increase in droughts means that a lot of fauna and flora have to disappear.
More often drought:
Longer and more extreme heat causes an increase in droughts, which are more devastating.
Disappearance of glaciers:
Rising temperatures melt the glaciers and put an end to it.
Increase in diseases and epidemics
Extreme and catastrophic conditions increase the number of diseases and epidemics.
Bees in the world and climate change
We have already seen the consequences of this climate change in recent years. Dry springs, late frosts, too hard and dry summers cause the blooms to fail. As a result, the bees have a shortage of food, the flowers do not pollinate and therefore produce less raw honey.
This difficulty to find food, makes that the bees have to look for the life to find it, reason why they do not visit a type of flower full of nectar and pollen, they have to visit many species of flowers. This would justify the shortage of monoflower honey.
Single female bees normally build their own nests where their progeny are born and feed. They spend most of their lives reproducing and feeding their young, which is why they depend so much on collecting food from flowers, many of which are specific to each bee species.
Photo 1: Almond blossoms
Control of breeding time is essential for wild bees:
Solitary bees, due to their way of reproducing, need to control perfectly the moment of incubation of their progeny. This control should be more exhaustive in spring when there is a risk that there are not enough flowers for the bees or that they have come out of hibernation too early. With climate change and the general rise in temperatures, the reproduction of wild bees could suffer great difficulties. The bees coming out of their lethargy in spring without food and the temporary imbalances due to lack of rain that are more and more frequent in this season are factors to which both bees and plants have to adapt.
The question that a team of researchers from the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the University of the Biocenter in Würzburg seeks to answer: What happens to newborn bees if the flowers of the plants have not yet bloomed? Flowers that provide food for the first few days of life. The results of their research were published in the scientific journal “journal biology”.
Temporary Environmental Imbalances Harm Bees
The Insect Timing Collaborative Research Centre has studied three different species of solitary bees that come out of hibernation in spring. The results of this study are alarming. Mariela Schenk, author of this study, explained: “An environmental imbalance of less than three or five days can cause considerable damage to wild bees.
The study was not carried out by assembling 36 large boxes placed at height. In these controlled environment boxes, the scientists were able to get the bees to produce their offspring at flowering time for three to five days. Subsequently, they controlled the life cycle of the bees, recording their daily activity and analyzing the nests they laid and the brood chambers they built.
After carrying out this study, the researchers discovered that all the individuals could not survive after three or five days without the food provided by the flowers. Those who survived had less activity and their reproduction rates were lower.
The negative consequences for bees despite their change in behaviour
Even insects that followed strategies to adapt to these changes suffered from their negative effects. The strategies they took to mitigate these effects were the following. One of the three species of bees endeavoured to procreate fewer female bees and more males. Males need less pollen and nectar than their female sisters. However, this strategy reduced the bee population, as Schenk pointed out in his study.
Another of the bee species followed other strategies, such as distributing their eggs in fewer nests. This strategy has the disadvantage of increasing the risk of a predator or parasite taking over the entire brood chamber.
The last strategy they observed was to increase their activity as the bees grew older, but this strategy was not very effective in mitigating the negative consequences of temporary climatic changes. Ecologist Schenk also added: “Despite finding different strategies in each species of bees, they all suffered serious damage to their health.
Reduction of pollination of plant flowers:
Dr. Andrea Holzschuh, who is an ecologist and also participated in this research, added that these temporary climatic changes worsen the situation of wild bees as well as honey bees, while at the same time reducing the pollination of plants in general. “In addition, these negative effects are magnified in spring.
Climate change in Spain
Spain is being greatly affected by climate change, as it is a country with low rainfall and high temperatures, and the increase in temperatures caused by climate change makes these problems even worse. Among the problems that will be faced in Spain, we mention the following:
Increase in heat waves: Climate change leads to an increase in heat waves, which are more frequent, more aggressive and of longer duration.
Increased desertification: Rising temperatures, longer periods of drought will prove that many species cannot survive and that desert areas are growing.
Increase in fires: Another side effect of climate change will be an increase in fires. Longer periods of drought and rising temperatures are breeding grounds for fires, as plant debris dries up and with rising temperatures these naturally catch fire
Major ecological disasters: All these effects described above are going to cause a change in our ecosystem and that this is directed to ecosystems with less wealth.
As a consequence, Spain faces a challenging future with climate change already underway. The governmental institutions and each citizen have in their hand to carry out small actions, which between all of them will protect our land and avoid climate change. Actions such as less use of fossil fuels and greater protection of our natural spaces.
Universidad de Wüzburg. Climate change threatens domestic bee species (El cambio climático amenza a especies de abejas domésticas). https://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/ 29 de junio del 2017