Are honeybees a renewable resource? Explain your answer.

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This is a tough question! Under normal circumstances, living things are usually categorized as renewable resources, since they are able to reproduce and repopulate an area; for instance, trees grow back when a forest is cut for timber, and oysters repopulate when an oyster bed is harvested.

However in recent years we are discovering that this is too simplistic a viewpoint. Honeybees are an excellent example of how delicate an ecosystem can be. Honeybees have been used by humans for thousands of years to assure pollination of important food crops.

Since honeybees are easy to breed and their colonies are easy to manipulate, they would seem at first glance to be renewable. However in recent years outbreaks of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious circumstance in which entire colonies of bees leave the hive and apparently just disappear, no one is sure anymore. No cause has been identified for CCD, but there are fears that honeybees could become extinct before we get the problem sorted out. At the moment, informed people are treating honeybees as though they were a non-renewable resource, carefully cultivating and protecting them.


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