Firstly, those relying on wasps to do the pollination after the extinction of bees, be advised that yes, they do pollinate, but not remotely as well
as bees, as their bodies are not covered in fuzzy hairs like bees, so the pollen does not stick well to them.
If you are in any doubt as to the importance of the honey bee in modern agriculture, consider the fact that farmers go to great lengths and cost to
transport thousands of hives around the country to pollinate crops. If the bees died out completely, there would be a huge drop in crop yields. This
is not a minor problem.
In Europe, and particularly the UK, there is a major problem with the mass die offs of bees. So far, with the mysterious colony collapse problem,
mixed with terrible summers and generally messed up weather patterns in the past 10 years, the Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni mites, the
Acarine mite, the Nosema apis virus and various other bacterial and fungal infections, it seems the honey bee is being attacked from every angle.
There is a fungal infection that causes the bee to lose its sense of direction, and therefore its ability to return to the hive causing the slow death
of the colony. There is also the wax moth (although a healthy colony can usually fight this off) and attacks from wasp colonies, with the Asian giant
hornet making its slow but inexorable invasion from Southern Europe. These are particularly threatening to European bee colonies, and have been
reported as far North as Paris last summer.
The predator insect "picks off" honey bees as they leave the hive until their colony is so exhausted the hornets can move in and destroy it
Groups from five to 50 of the Asian hornets hover in front of a hive, picking off single honeybees by decapitating them and stripping off their wings
and legs before making off with the "meat ball" to their nest to feed their young.
As the attacks continue, the honeybee colony stops flying and has to consume its own stores, eventually weakening it to such a point that an invasion
force of many hornets enters the hive to rob it. In Asian colonies, the bees recognize the attacks and swarm onto the hornets, sacrificing themselves
but eventually asphyxiating the hornet. European bees do not know this behavior.
So spare a thought for the poor honey bee- does a great job we should all be grateful for, and has a very difficult life!