Bees in Decline
National Bee Day is on August 17th!
WHAT BEE'S DO IN NATURE:
All living things are connected, the actions of one can positively or negatively affect the others. Worker bees for instance live their life bumbling from flower to flower without ever realizing that they assist about 80% (United State Department of Agriculture, 2019) of the flora on earth to grow. That doesn't even account for all the living creatures that live on and off that flora that may not be there otherwise. When I say assist I mean that there are other methods by which some of these plants get pollinated, like wind for instance, but there is still a large amount of foods that would not be around without bees.
What plants do bees pollinate?
Almonds, watermelon, kiwi, mangoes, apples, okra, apricots, grapes, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, coffee, cranberries, pumpkin, onions, cucumbers, eggplants, peaches, pears, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, walnut, passion fruit, cashews, rowanberry, gourd, zucchini, macadamia nut, and brazil nut, to name a few.
Not only do these little workers help feed us by pollinating the plants that we eat, they are a food source themselves. Honey from bees is estimated to be a 150 million dollar industry. Additionally in many countries bees along other insects can be enjoyed as a meal.
Lastly, they are essential to wild plant growth. They are vital for trees like willows and poplars to grow and many tropical forests would not survive without the biodiversity that bees promote.
WHAT'S KILLING BEES:
The largest culprit to the decline of bees is pesticides. Attention has been placed largely on neonicotinoids which are found in common insecticides, pesticides, bug spays, plant feed, fertilizers and some compost. Look for these types of neonicotinoids in your gardening products and avoid if possible:
Parasitic Varroa mites:
Another variable in the decline of bee population is parasitic varroa mites. These mites reproduce on bee larvea and then feed and live on the adult honey bees; weakening them and transmitting viruses.
Bees colonies have declined 60% between the years 1947 and 2008
HOW WE CAN HELP BEES:
- Don't prune your lawn to perfection. Bees love dandelions
- Don't use pesticides and herbicides opt for more natural bee friendly options
- Plant a bee garden. Include plants that will flower throughout the seasons. Choose plants like Calendula and Wild Lilac in the spring, echinacea, and hosta in the summer, an witch hazel and zinnias in the fall.
The more we know the more we can do something to help.