It may come as a surprise, but honey bees are an integral part of providing food for us. Nearly 70% of fruit and vegetable crops rely on them, and without them, we'd actually have a huge food crisis on our hands.
Unfortunately, honey bees are dying off and at huge numbers, which can have potentially catastrophic effects. There has been a notable decline in the honey bee population since 2006, and it is unknown why; the die-off is termed a “Colony Collapse disorder”.
It's not just a regional thing, either. There's an 85% decline of bees in the Middle East, and a 30% decline in both Europe and America. There are several theories of why honey bees are dying off - climate change, viruses, pesticides and even cell phone use have been identified as potential causes.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba are trying to create a strain of “super-bees” that are able to survive the conditions that regular honey bees cannot. How did they go about doing that? Well, researches have noted that some hives are more resistant to mites and viruses than other hives, so they have collected all of the Queen bees from the resistant hives.
They take these collected bees and expose them to disease conditions, and observe the surviving Queen Bee. It is theorized that if this cycle is repeated, the Queen bee that is able to survive the tough conditions is found and can be researched further.
What would the repercussions of this be? Are there any dangers to having “super bees”, or can only good come from it? Would the super bee be enough to solve the food crisis? It’s unlikely that these super bees will save us from a food crisis, but it could buy us some time until we find a more effective solution.
Until then, we have to bee-lieve that these super bees will save us!