South Africa: Leave Them or Rewild Them? Survival Plan for Bees Clouded By a Swarm of Opinion

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Bees are an integral part of any ecosystem, but globally the bee population continues to decline. With the spread of disease, widespread habitat loss and pesticide poisoning, the Western Cape is looking towards solutions to help save its bees. However, the answer is not straightforward, as scientists debate the best course of action.

Global wild bee populations are declining, either due to habitat loss and the use of pesticides or as a result of the spread of disease. Ever-increasing agricultural demands have put pressure on beekeepers to expand their hives, while natural forage decreases as urbanisation eats away at local flora. Due to the important role bees play as pollinators, the loss of the population would have a devastating impact on the ecosystem and food security.

While globally, particularly in Europe, there have been significant losses to the wild bee population, the extent of the issues, if any, facing South Africa's wild bee population is still unknown.

In South Africa, 90% of the honeybee population is wild. However, there is very little information or data available about wild bees, as most studies observe managed bees in hives. (Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim)

According to Colleen Seymour, a principal scientist at the...

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