This quote from Charles Darwin is applicable to present day bees. Bees have a very weak immune system and are not very adaptive to environmental changes caused by us. Global warming and the increased presence of agrochemical toxins are conditions many species of bees will not survive. Their extinction will effect others species dependent on their pollination.
In the first edition of "On the Origin of the Species" by Charles Darwin (1859) he describes how essential Bumble Bees (referred to prior to W.W. I as Humble Bees) are for the pollination of plants and specifically the red clover (Trifolium pratense). This he explains is because of it's unique ability to reach the nectar which eludes other bees. (Different pollinators for different plants)
"Charles Darwin wrote of "humble-bees"... "plants and animals, most remote in the scale of nature, are bound together by a web of complex relations. [...] I have [...] reason to believe that humble-bees are indispensable to the fertilisation of the heartsease (Viola tricolor), for other bees do not visit this flower. From experiments which I have tried, I have found that the visits of bees, if not indispensable, are at least highly beneficial to the fertilisation of our clovers; but humble-bees alone visit the common red clover (Trifolium pratense), as other bees cannot reach the nectar. Hence I have very little doubt, that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests; and Mr. H. Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that 'more than two thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England.' Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, 'Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice.' Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!" (from Chapter 3 "On the Origin of the Species")
Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder-bee) on red clover
As most bumblebees are ground dwellers their existence depends upon the population of nest destroying mice whose population depends on the subsequent population of predatory cats. Therefore, the greater the population of cats the greater the number of bumblebees and the greater the pollination of red clover. We must also consider the negative effect of cat predation on birds, amphibians and reptiles. This is why an ecosystem functioning in equilibrium (balanced populations) is so important.
|Left Bombus Mixtus (Male) and right Bomus Caliginosus or Bombus Vosnesenskii on a sunflower in my garden|
|My favorite an Orange Rumped Humble Bee (Bombus melanopygus) enjoying a cranesbill geranium in my garden|
|Another Humble Bee beutifying my garden|