Design can change the world for the better, but our wide reaching imprint on Mother Nature doesn’t always yield the best results. Case in point: the decline of bees. More specifically that commercially raised bumblebees are affecting the wild bee population. For years, researchers have been linking a decline in bees to everything from pesticides to genetically modified crops, and now the news is pointing to the bees themselves – the ones that humans “create” in greenhouses.
Researchers believe that some commercially raised bumblebees have escaped from greenhouses, foraged outside crops and spread diseases to their wild cousins. Crithidia bombi, a parasite that is common among commercial bees, is finding its way into the wild populations surrounding the greenhouses. Believed to be transfered from greenhouse bees, this parasite has been shown to weaken and kill wild bumblebees.
While this study has been done with bumblebee populations in southern Ontario, it may have far reaching implications. This type of transference may be one of the reasons that many honey bee colonies around the world have mysteriously disappeared, a phenomenon know as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Our designs flow through every built facet of this world; from the largest of buildings to the smallest of nano-tech devices. Our designs, even reach to the biological world. We have created genetically modified crops, we have cloned animals and we have commercially raised bees in greenhouses. Many of our designs have been widely accepted and benefited the world, but some have stirred controversy and have even had disastrous results. Unfortunately, it seems that commercially raising bees, in some instances, may have fallen into the latter category of harm.
It is a lesson that we need to heed. If we lose too many of our pollinators it could have extremely harmful effects for our crops and food supply. The bees in the study have been commercially raised, not even genetically altered. We must realize that our actions have consequences and our use of nature and how we design our agricultural systems can have lasting and far reaching effects, even with the seemingly benign act of raising commercial bees.