Bees and fate of humanity
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20-03-2013, 10:55 AM
Bees and fate of humanity
I've read many articles and seen several documentaries where the scientifics say that without bees, we would be extinct in a few years.
I had always believed that it was true: no bees -> no pollination -> no plants -> no mammals -> no humans



Now, I have several doubts about that. Bees haven't been in this world forever and it was life.
Also, are bees the only insects that can pollinate? (I think butterflies can pollinate too).

What do you think? Is this claim exaggerated? Is it still valid? Does humanity depend on bees to survive?

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20-03-2013, 11:01 AM
RE: Bees and fate of humanity
There may be hope for more than just the bees! You might be interested in some recent studies that show wild bees as being more efficient pollinators than the domestic varieties. Here's a starting place: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/...ybees.html
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20-03-2013, 11:09 AM
RE: Bees and fate of humanity
(20-03-2013 11:01 AM)Heathen Wrote:  There may be hope for more than just the bees! You might be interested in some recent studies that show wild bees as being more efficient pollinators than the domestic varieties. Here's a starting place: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/...ybees.html
Yes, but I read this article about "Insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which have been implicated in the decline of bees, largely outlawed across the continent."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bl...icotinoids


I guess this decline includes wild bees and many other insects.

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20-03-2013, 11:16 AM
RE: Bees and fate of humanity
I am not buying it.

Root crops, like potatoes, carrots, and many others, are not pollinated. Neither is grass, which includes things like rice, wheat, and corn.

Which means that most of our staple crops will be just fine. Also, our grazing animals will still have all the grass they need to graze. If bees disappear, we may have to find new ways to hydroponically grow fruits and flowers and cactus, but I think the world will still be able to eat just fine.

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20-03-2013, 11:26 AM
RE: Bees and fate of humanity
I'm sure there would be problems, but we pollinate date palms by hand. I don't see why we couldn't do that with other food crops. It would be time and labour intensive, but I imagine it could be done.

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20-03-2013, 12:20 PM
RE: Bees and fate of humanity
Hey, KV.

You're looking at it the wrong way.

Imagine that you have a Ferrari. A real nice one. Now imagine that I fire a .50 caliber round into the engine block. Do you think that the car will still work, even if most of the cars components were not at all damaged by the gunshot?

The reason the Ferrari would no longer work is because it's a system, not a heap. You can remove things from a heap, or split it into two heaps and nothing happens. If you yank stuff out of a system or split a system in two (imagine we now bifurcate the car), you have a broken system.

Systems are comprised of INTERDEPENDENT parts. The emergent properties of a system cannot be guessed at by examining the individual parts. It only makes sense when the system is functioning and in operation.

Human exceptionalism is the idea that we're not animals and that we are separate from our ecosystem. It's the single dumbest idea in the history of ever, as well as the most lethal. We are not separated from our ecosystem, we are very much a part of it.

Our ecosystem does not consist of rice, wheat, corn, potatoes, spinach, pigs, cows, chickens and some beans. There are MILLIONS of species in our ecosystem. And they are ALL INTERDEPENDENT.

Bees are what's called a KEYSTONE species; much like a keystone in an arch. If you remove it, the whole thing collapses.

What's important is not what bees do directly for us and our favourite crops, it's what they do overall for the entire system.

Right now, our ecosystem is such that it supports human life. It has ZERO obligation to be that way. Just ask the dinosaurs. If we collapse our ecosystem, it might very well cease to be hospitable to our species. Our species is incredibly fragile. There's only one species in our genus. If the planet becomes inhospitable to our species, that's it. Game over for humans.

So you're absolutely right, bees haven't always been here. Neither have humans for that matter. But ecosystems are not stagnant. They change over time. TODAY, the ecosystem is such that removing bees is as dangerous to the function of the system as removing the spark plugs is to the function of your Ferrari.

Butterflies can pollinate, but it's a matter of workload. Also, there's no guarantee that they can pollinate the same species that bees can, and if those species die because there's no more bees, then that might very well collapse the ecosystem, butterflies or no.

The sheer SCOPE of the ecological services rendered by bees is mind numbing. This is not something we can replace with human labour or butterflies. It's like saying, "Well if North America lost all of our cars and transportation trucks, we could do the same job on foot." No. No we could not. It requires a level of complexity and an energy input far greater than anything we could ever generate on our own.

Same with pollination.

So the reason people talk about us being fucked without bees is because they understand the system and how it functions. And the prognosis is not good.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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