Pardon the pun, but it “bee”comes more apparent every day that we need to dial down the use of chemicals in our environment.
The bee population in the country is dwindling, literally, by the millions and we need to do something to stop it. For those of you who consider bees to be just a summer nuisance, think again. Take a moment to remember your 7th grade biology for a moment. Bees don’t just make honey, although that’s a great bonus. They pollinate plant life, many varieties infact, so many that it equates to roughly 70% of the world’s food crops. We stand to lose if we don’t get our act together quickly.
Here’s a list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees if you’re curious. As you can see, it’s not just flowers, but fruits and vegetables as well. A list including cucumbers, carrots pears, almonds, onions, and apples just to name a few, in addition to honey, beeswax, royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis.
Here’s a snippet of great article from qz.com:
As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis melliferapopulation that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite calledNosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
What can I do you ask? Glad to hear you want to help! 🙂
First, rethink your lawn and consider planing native flowers and try to plant several varieties so that you can keep blooms going as long as you can during the course of the year. Second, bees need fresh water just like all living creatures but they can’t drink from a pool, they have to stand on something while they drink. Consider making a “bee bath” in your flower garden. Fill a shallow container with some rocks that they can stand on while they drink and maintain it so they know they can come back every day.
Then of course there’s the next level – no pesticides that harm bees. Here’s my previous post on dealing with Mosquitos.
Live in an area with native bats? Consider a partnership by putting a bat house up. Click on the picture to check out a variety of bat houses. Bats are really great, no really! A single bat can eat up to 300 mosquitoes per night (and no, they don’t like humans).
Sure that sounds good but I live in an apartment!
Okay, so that can be an obstacle but its not impossible. Window boxes and hanging baskets work great. Talk to your landlord or your homeowning friends and offer to help with their garden. No one refuses free gardening help (believe me).
Consider making a donation. Organizations like The Honeybee Conservancy allow you to make a donation for them to act on your own or you can sponsor a bee hive.
Share the word! Somehow the message of Colony Collapse Disorder seems to be escaping people. Whether you Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or your book club at the public library, get the word out.
Finally, write. Even an email to a congressman to let them know where you stand can help. You can find their contact information at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml With enough pressure, maybe we can change the future for us and our bees.
Thanks for helping!