Bees are endangered -- what does this mean for humans?

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

For the first time ever bees are listed as an endangered species. That means their numbers are dropping so much that experts see the threat of extinction.

Local expert Eric Nisbet, in no uncertain terms, explained why the falling number of bees should have all of us concerned.

"If the bees were to disappear, we would disappear within a decade afterward," he said.

That's because without bees we would lose the majority of our produce. Things like watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries are all pollinated by bees.

Nisbet said the falling numbers can be blamed on a few things, including pesticides.

[Web Extra: Why Arizona bees sometimes make 'suicide pacts']

"This affects everything about the bee," he said. "It affects their brain, their development, all their habits that make them bees, that make them do what they do as bees."

That includes their role as the earth's primary pollinators. He also said even though humans need bees to survive, we are part of the problem.

"These companies out there make a lot of money killing bees because people have a fear of them and everybody sees bees and goes, 'Oh, killer bees!' They're not all killer bees," Nisbet said. 

In reality, he said they won't bother you if you don't bother them.

Nisbet said we can also help by being mindful of what we buy, making great efforts to not buy anything that's been genetically modified. That's because the chemicals used to modify the plants can then modify the bee that pollinates them.

"Everything in a beehive works off the pheromones of the queen bee," he explained. "She kind of controls everything and if she gets her signals mixed up, and they get their signals mixed up, we end up with hives that can't do anything."

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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