The lifespan of the adult honeybee appears to have shrunk in the past 50 years.

According to the European Red List for Bees, almost one in ten species of bees are in danger of extinction. If lifespans halved, what would we do? If the average woman in the UK lived to 41, that would be the equivalent.

Our future is connected to bees. We can't grow most of our crops without bees and other pollinators.

Bee colony deaths have gone up around the world over the past few decades. Bee deaths were very bad in the winter of 2006 in the USA.

Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and Poland have all had unexplained bee colony deaths. The honeybee colonies in the UK died in the cold winter of 2012-13.

50 years of data

The authors used mathematical modelling to show that lower bee life expectancy could cause mass colony death.

The life span of honeybees in the US has fallen from a median of 34 days to just 18 days.

The results of the study may have been affected by the fact that worker bees were kept in cages. Something is worrying if not.

The authors think that honeybees may be suffering from a higher prevalence of disease due to the global spread of the varroa mite.

New generations of pesticides have not existed 50 years ago.

Pesticides can be found in the pollen that bees eat. bees exposed to low doses of a highly toxic group of pesticides called neonicotinoids have reduced resistance to disease

The authors suggest that bee genes might have changed. The genes of honeybees are related to their lifespan. Beekeepers may use artificial selection to favor bees with longer lifespans.

This is happening in other species. When cod is smaller in size because of being overfished, it matures earlier.

Beekeepers rarely survive for a long time in the modern world. They may favor a live-fast-die- young lifestyle.

Everyone's problem

There are a lot of pressures on bees to survive. The University of Bristol found that the way bees sense flowers is being changed by the way plants are being fertilized. They aren't going to visit flowers.

Bee habitat is going away. Almost all of the wildflower meadow in the UK have been lost since the 1930s.

Good science often raises more questions than it answers. Some of the bees are kept in cages. This method is used to study bee health.

Control groups would usually be set up at the same time and under the same conditions.

The historical data from control groups was used in many of the studies. This is a weakness in the report.

They can't say that lab conditions have not changed. Older studies used wooden cages and modern studies used plastic. The size of the cage may change. The air flow in incubators may be different.

Most of the time, these details are not noted. The reduction in longevity can be explained by anything that changed over the last 50 years.

Scientists will have a hard time unraveling the study's findings. We could compare the longevity of honeybees from previous decades to what they are today.

Scientists would be able to rule out the possibility that the results were affected by lab conditions.

Reduced bee life expectancy leads to less pollination. 75% of the crops we grow worldwide are dependent on bees and other pollinating insects. Most of the wild plants are pollinated by them.

We don't know if honeybees' life expectancy has changed due to the challenges they face. We need to know why bees don't live as long in the wild.

Dave Goulson is a professor of biology at the university.

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