Honeybees, one of the most important pollinators of global crops, are steadily vanishing, likely due to a deadly combination of pesticides and parasites. Some days it seems like we might all wake up and find a note left to humanity from the honeybees: “So long, and thanks for all the pollen.”
Now, the White House is stepping in. On Friday, a presidential memo ordered the creation of a Pollinator Health Task Force, which will attempt to stymie the swift decline of honey bees, along with declining populations of "native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies."
President Obama isn’t the only world leader worried about what the potential loss of pollinators might do to crops. In a preventative measure last year, the EU banned the use of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids for two years in an attempt to stop honey bees from dying off. The Washington Post dug up a UN report from 2011 that also mentioned concern for declining bee populations:
“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature,” Steiner said in the release. “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”
Just three years later, we’ve already surpassed the 7 billion mark. And the bees are still slowly disappearing.
The Pollinator Health Task Force will have 180 days to come up with a National Pollinator Health Strategy. The strategy will involves public outreach, studies of pollinator populations and the effects of pesticides on them and the improvement and expansion of pollinator habitats, including on military bases and roadways.