More than just bees, pollinators include butterflies, moths, bats, birds, beetles, wasps and even some small mammals. All these species are simply creatures that visit flowers and transport pollen grains between them, and their actions are responsible for the growth and fruition of plants that provide us with the vast majority of fruits, nuts, vegetables, natural oils, fibres and many raw materials. Simply, if it flowers, it needs a pollinator.
This makes pollinators responsible for one of every three bites of food eaten across the globe, and the loss of these pollinators presents serious risks for our food sources, especially as the high yield crops we depend upon are increasingly pollinator dependent.
With the use of rented hives and hand pollination currently offsetting the damage, the loss of natural pollination sees an expected increase of land conversion for agricultural use, due to a drop of up to 65% in yield per crop.
Our pollinators have declined dramatically in the last 20 years, with species such as the monarch butterfly having declined by 90%, and beekeepers reporting 42% loss in colonies. Their declines are due to habitat loss, pesticides and diseases, but with natural pollination dropping, agricultural efforts are increasing the rate of both land conversion and pesticide use to cope with yield loss, further intensifying the problem.
With yields found to have dropped to up to 65% in yield per crop, agricultural firms are turning to rented hives and hand pollination to offset the damage, but as intensification further impacts natural pollinators, the situation is only expected to get worse until systemic change is made.
Worse, with agriculture moving more to the developing world, the reliance on imported food brings parasites and diseases across from different ecosystems, further endangering our pollinator species as they have no natural defence to protect them.
Protecting our pollinators requires strong, decisive policies and leadership from countries around the globe, and it’s clear more than ever that our future rests on the smallest of creatures.
Search terms for your own research: Habitat loss facts, insect declines and why they matter, rewilding effects
Nature Needs Half, Ecocide Law
Food Import Reliance, Deforestation