Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Where Have All the Bees Gone?

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Where Have All the Bees Gone?

Article excerpt

Flowering plants need pollinators to produce fruits, vegetables, and nuts. We, in turn, rely on those plants for food. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that about one-third of the food we eat depends on honeybee pollination alone (see "On the web"). In 2006, honeybees started vanishing mysteriously. The plight of bees has made headlines ever since. This past June, President Obama issued a memorandum giving protection and restoration of native pollinators priority among various agencies.

Review how bees pollinate flowering plants with "Bee Basics," a USDA booklet. Explore other resources on the Teaching Bee website from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Also see the pollinator pages of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Starting in 2006, scientists noticed that millions of bees in the U.S. were leaving their hives in search of nectar, never to return. The causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD) are still not fully understood but probably involve a combination of pathogens, pesticides, and parasites. View a few segments of Nature's "Silence of the Bees" video, which focuses on CCD's effects on agriculture. Losses of bees--from CCD and other causes--have increased from 10% to 30% per year.


Classroom activities

Have students view some of the videos mentioned above and read current news about bees. Then let them participate in some of the interactive activities available online, such as:

* Information and activities on the pollinator page of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: www. …

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