Bees Need Our Help. Be a Bee Hero!
The humble bee an incredible pollinator, is responsible for helping the growth of some of our favorite treats. Coffee, chocolate, almonds, apples, pumpkins and so many more of the foods we are accustomed to eating are available for us as a result of bees. Described by Earthwatch as the "most invaluable species on the planet" if bees become extinct it could have devastating results globally.
Bees are known as cross-pollinators. Cross pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world's crops and 90 percent of our wild plants and flowers to thrive. Without bees to spread seed, many plants - including food crops - would die off. Since 2006, the USA's commercial honeybee population has suffered a more than 40% loss, with the UK reporting losses greater than 50 percent since 2010.
Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are not aggressive.
What this decline could mean for us
More than $15 billion a year in just U.S crops are pollinated by bees, including apples, berries. cantaloupes, cucumbers and so much more. U.S honey bees also produce about $150 million in honey annually. The global economic cost of bee decline could be catastrophic. Resulting in lower crop yields, increased production costs and even overall loss of certain fruits and vegetables. Without their help over one third of our crop supply could be in danger, that means saying goodbye to almonds, apricots, blueberries, strawberries, and many more of our favorite and staple fruits/crops.
A serious effect on wild flowers and animal life
Approximately 250,000 species of flowering plants depend on bees to help them pollinate. Without these incredible insects, many wild flowers and other plants would struggle to reproduce and could die off completely. These flowers and their berries are a food source for insects, birds and small mammals, it could have severe consequences for the survival of such creature. In turn, larger predators would find their food supply affected and would also struggle to survive.
A world without honey
While the other effects of a decline and loss in our bee population are far more alarming, it's worth remembering that this ancient natural sweetener (with the host of health benefits it offers) could be lost forever.
What is happening to the bees
Global warming, which has caused flowers to bloom earlier or later than usual. Meaning, when pollinators come out of hibernation, the flower that provide the food they need to survive and start the season have already bloomed.
Pesticide use is causing increasing health risks for humans, wildlife and insects. Some toxic pesticides meant to kill pests can harm honey bees. While most countries have banned these bee killing chemicals, they are still widely used in the U.S.
Destruction of natural habitat through both urbanization and the increasing need for more agricultural land are systematically destroying all the natural habitats of pollinators.
Save the bees!
What we can do
- Support local organic farmers who work with nature and season to grow their crops without the use of harmful pesticides.
- Practice organic gardening at home too. Many household insecticides contain bee-killing chemicals. Use only certified organic seeds, weed-killers and insect replants or, better yet, make your own!
- Plant bee-friendly flowers and shrubs to attract these invaluable creatures to you garden. Not only will you be greeted by an array of color when you step outside, you'll also enjoy the beautiful aromas and fresh seasonal flowers for your kitchen table. Even window boxes, hanging baskets and planters can provide valuable resources for our bee friends. Some easy to care for bee loving plants include Lilac, Rosemary, Hydrangea and Winter Honey Suckle, but there are many more!
- Buy only local honey as opposed to mass-produced supermarket brands. Local beekeepers care about the health and well-being of their bees. You will keep your food miles down, support a local business and help ward off seasonal allergies.
- Adopt a hive by contacting a local beekeeper or national association. For an annual fee you will be supporting the work of bee keeper, and will receive honey and honey-based products from your hive. You may even have the opportunity to visit your bees!
- Set up a bee refreshment station to aid tired bees. After all the work they do, a bee can easily wear itself out. It's not uncommon to see a lone bee lying on the ground, seemingly dead, as it tries to muster up the energy to find food and fresh water. Give them a helping hand! Create a bee watering station and mix up a little sugar-water syrup to give bees the boost they need. Never give bees artificial sweeteners or honey, they can contain traces of viruses that can be passed on to entire colonies.
Learn more about these magnificent creatures
Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are not aggressive and will not sting unless they feel under threat. Honeybees actually die after they sting you, which should help to prove they will not attack unless absolutely necessary.
Bees are attracted to brightly colored clothing so wear light colors when out in the garden. Avoid heavily scented beauty products and perfumes. If a bee hovers around you, don't swat it - just stay still and he will soon "buzz off".
Spread the word
Unless there are major legislative changes or public outcries, industrial farming will continue to use the dangerous bee-killing pesticides and destructive agricultural practices. Speak up! Speaking out to influence the governments and companies who can make these changes happen is vital. educate people on the devastating impact these practices are having on our pollinators, our environment and our own health. Encourage local government or council to fill public spaces with bee friendly plants.
Talk to your friends! Many people are just not aware of the decline in the bee population and do not know the devastating effects it could have. Spread the news to them, share this blog to help educate them on what is happening and how they can help. One person truly can help make a difference. Stand up and be a bee hero!
Make your own bee watering station
Fill a bowl or pie tin with marble or rocks. Cover with a sugar water solution until rocks or marbles are almost covered. Set out near your bee friendly plants. That's it! The bees will be ever so thankful and you will know you are helping to do your part.