Why are the bees declining?
It is not rocket science – it is simply a combination of factors all man made!
One of the main culprits being pesticides. In one study biologists discovered 150 different chemicals in the residue of bee pollen a deadly “pesticide cocktail” according to Eric Mussen of University of California. Green Peace reported the bees became weak, disorientated, ill and also fed the contamination into their larvae. Colonies then collapsing!
Another area of concern is habitat. Year on year grasslands and forests are being eroded to make way for industrial agribusiness that use pesticides without a thought for the environment or the impact of using such poisons.
Add to that drought, air pollution and global warming and you can see what the bee is up against.
Destructive and dysfunctional big agribusiness need to change their methods but unfortunately profit margin seems to be the number one priority with them.
What can be done to help the Bee population?
ECO Farming is the way forward with some countries taking the initiative including Mexico that has banned genetically modified corn to protect it’s native crops. Bhutan, India and a number of European countries are taking positive action that the rest of the world can learn from.
Eco farming is vital for preserving our wild life and bees, it is also better for the human food production. This method restores nutrients to the soil with natural composting and avoids pesticides and fertilisers. Actually think about it – do you really want to eat food that has been sprayed and contaminated by these poisons? Look what it does to the bee’s – it cannot be that great for humans either.
What does the bee do for you!
Wild and domestic honey bees are responsible for 80 % of the worldwide pollination. One bee colony pollinates 3 million flowers a day – no wonder we have the busy as bee saying! Fruits, nuts and vegetables – thank the bees! Approximately 90% of the world’s nutrition has been made possible by the bee pollination.
What can YOU do to help the bees? 10 ways you can make a difference to the bee population.
We can all make a difference, small changes from us have a major impact on the habitat of nature.
Here are a few simple ways for you and your family to make this world a little more bee friendly.
- Look at your lawn and think about where you could put a colourful, beautiful flower bed. Grow plenty of varieties with nectar and pollen. It will be lovely for you and fantastic for your little flying visitor. If you don’t have a lawn (and even if you do) think about hanging baskets, pots and planters. Find something to suit your space – bees love herbs, shrubs and trees also. Think from the windowsill, porch and beyond, go and look at your space and you will be surprised at what you can do!
- Plant lots of native varieties as they will be well suited to the growing conditions and local bees will be able to identify them as a good source of pollen. You can plant non native also – mix it up! Remember bees do not suddenly start to exist in the Spring/Summer, they are there all year round and therefore need nutrition in the Autumn and Winter too. We can easily forget this important fact so make sure you plant varieties for all seasons. Think Winter flowers like the little crocus and heather for colour all year round. To be of benefit to the bees flowers need to be active and open – certain bedding plants will have no pollen or nectar but check out the list provided below for the best Winter varieties if you are in a colder climate.Grow varieties for all year round to ensure a good steady source of food for the bees. Start sowing in late Winter for Spring/Summer blossoms and if you are not a keen gardener – just nip down to the local garden centre and buy some ready made planters and get advice on easy to grow, low maintenance ideas!
- Maybe you would love the idea of growing your own fruit and veg? Not only is this a fantastic, healthy hobby for you but the bees can help you – as you help them! Your little gardener bees will help to pollinate your plants and crops – aubergines, onions, peppers, runner beans, apples, strawberries, the list is endless and quite exciting when you think what you can grow for you and your family helping the bee colony too.
- REMEMBER use only natural or organic pesticides or herbicides. There are numerous ways to protect your garden from weeds without killing all the natural habitat. That cute little ladybird is a great asset in your garden – along with beetles and hoverflies they hunt aphids and other garden pests so stay clear of the pesticides – you are wiping out your garden and natures best friends. These chemicals are not exactly great for the environment or your health either so stay clear. I am sure you have heard the controversy with Monsanto’s Roundup – a very popular product but has been found to suffocate human cells and has also been implicated in an array of other health issues including cancer, depression, heart disease and autism. Colony Collapse Disorder has also been attributed to the use of pesticides – this is when honeybees die off in record numbers but of course some agencies are trying to say this is a natural phenomenon! I think if pesticides have been proven to be affecting the human population adversely these agencies need to go and rethink (and maybe put people and nature before profit)! It does not make sense to use pesticides when there are effective, natural and safe options that are extremely cost effective. You will have at least one of these in the house already, Vinegar, epsom salts, pepper!
- Bees need water so make a bee bath – fill a shallow container with stones, twigs and fresh water. Keep your bee bath fresh and the bees will know to return each day for their hydration.
- DON’T kill the bees, don’t swat them or spray them – they will not purposely come to sting you – just move out of their road! If they come into the house, open the door or window and try to guide them out. Bees only use their stings in self – defence and are not aggressive. Just avoid disturbing nests or standing too close to a hive.
- Relax a little on the weeding, lawn clover and dandelion are great pollen and nectar providers. Dandelions have a lot of medicinal value also so don’t look upon them as weeds anymore! How about leaving one little end of your garden untamed? The longer grass provides shelter and food for pollinators – personally I love a little wildness in the garden! There is nothing as beautiful as a wildflower meadow and you can have a little section to do just this. Not only are you helping the bees but watching the butterflies that will be attracted into your garden will be sheer delight.
- Help bees that are tired! Yes bees get tired too and no wonder! You might find bees at a standstill – this is common in the winter or colder days. To help them on their way you can make them a little sugar solution. Mix half and half sugar and warm water , put in a bottle cap and place near the bees head. It should then use it’s proboscis to get energised – like gatorade for bees!
- Get busy and create a bee hotel! just like any other hotel you will have a variety of visitors. Bee hotels attract solitary species – they lay their eggs in cavities and they then leave a small food supply for their larvae. The larvae then hatches and emerges – how wonderful is that. It is advisable to place the bee hotels in full sun. Now I am not talking the Hilton, you can buy readymade at garden centres, Amazon or online – you can also quite simply build a small wood pile (untreated wood) or gather pruned branches and twigs to provide shelter and place somewhere hidden in your garden.
- Become a Bee Keeper! If you want to take this further – there are lots of places and people where you can get advice. Find a local beekeeper and ask questions about the process and any tips that they can give you. If you check out beekeeping associations – they should be able to provide you with local contacts to help you on your journey and to keep you informed also of any courses or books they would advise. Maybe offer your services with a bee keeper for free just to get practical experience and to see if it is for you. If not – remember if you follow the above nine tips on helping bees, well then, you are already a keeper of the bees – and well done!