Be a bee friend!
To most people, bees are creatures whose sole purpose is to make honey; but contrary to popular belief, bees are essential to the ecosystem and they’re disappearing rapidly. Bees are the key to food production because they pollinate the plants; they perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day; almost 90% of the food we eat is pollinated by them, and that includes fruits, vegetables, spices, oils, and nuts. In this text, you will learn how to save the bees.
So why are bees disappearing?
The bee population has been in decline for years and some species of bees have entered the endangered list, and there are three main reasons: industrial agriculture, climate change, and parasites.
Intensification of agriculture is dangerous to the bee population in a lot of ways; as a start, it decreases the quality of nutrients, in the form of sugars, available in the nectar and pollen that bees eat. It also leads to the loss of the natural habitat of bees such as forests, grasslands and old fields due to their conversion into monoculture farms. Another way our agriculture is killing off the bees is the massive and excessive use of pesticides; the pesticides known as neonicotinoid are known to undermine the bees’ immune system and impair their learning ability, which means that bees can neither find their way back home nor find food in the first place.
Along with pesticides, parasites are another reason for the bee decline; parasites such as the Varrao mites have been identified as a major cause for colony loss. This parasite attacks honey bees and it can only reproduce in a bee colony. This Varrao mites parasite is a blood-sucking parasite that affects both young and adult bees and the disease caused by it can result in bees losing their wings or legs, eventually killing them.
Lastly, climate change is causing habitat loss and creating a seasonal mismatch in seasonal timing between when flowers produce pollen and when bees are ready to feed on that pollen because of the average monthly temperatures rise which makes flowers bloom earlier in the spring.
Why are bees that important anyway?
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we said that the extinction of bees would lead to the extinction of humans. Extinction of bees would gravely affect humans, animals, and plants. Bees the most efficient insects when it comes to pollinating plants; it is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees, about 250,000 species of flowering plants depend on bees for pollination. Many of these are crucial to world agriculture. If bees went extinct, there’d be a massive decline in crop production, which means that at some point humans will starve. In addition, honey bees play a significant role in the pollination of other important crops such as cotton and flax. And there are also a number of valuable non-food products produced by the honey bee, such as beeswax used in cleaning and beauty products. It’s not just the human race that would suffer; there are birds and small mammals that feed off the berries and seeds that rely on bee pollination. These species will go extinct if plants ceased to exist, which in turn would lead to the starvation of the omnivores or carnivores that continue the food chain. This all ultimately means that we wouldn’t be able to survive and that we would be forced into extinction within a hundred years.
What can we do to save the bees?
Here are a few steps that each of us can take to do our part and help the honey bee population:
1- Say no to toxic pesticide.
Synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are harmful to bees. Using these pesticides in your garden can endanger bees’ lives. If you must treat your garden, try to use organic pesticides, and make sure your plants haven’t been previously treated by neonicotinoids.
2- Provide water for the bees.
You can put out a small bowl or basin of water in your balcony or garden so bees can drink from it during hot summer days. Don’t forget to arrange some pebbles and stones in the basin so the bees can land on them! You can also leave a bite of food for them.
3- Make your own bee garden to host a bee habitat!
By planting a bee garden, you can help the bees by adding to the shrinking inventory of flower-rich habitat in your area. And in return, the bees will pollinate your flowers, providing a beautiful harvest of fruits, seeds and vegetables.
- Make sure your garden has flowers that provide bees with the pollen and nectar they need, such as Sunflowers.
- Plant wildflowers like poppies and dandelions in your garden, or even create a small wildflower area.
4- Start a honeybee hive.
Give different bee species a home and start a beehive in your garden or rooftop. This will give you a chance to directly impact the lives of the bees and the ecosystem while giving you the benefit of amazing organic honey and beeswax.
5- Understand bees better.
Educate yourself and your family about bees and unlearn the misconceptions you have about them so you can have a better understanding and respect for them. For example, do you know what solitary bees or mason bees are?
6- Support your local beekeeper.
If you don’t want a hive of your own, you can help save the bees by supporting a beekeeper in your area. These keepers work hard to nurture their bees and better the local community for bees and humans alike. The easiest way to do this is to buy locally-made honey and beeswax products.
7- Donate money to save the bees.
There are a lot of organizations that and initiatives that are helping to avoid colony collapse disorder, and you can help them by donating and here are some of them:
In conclusion, our lives without bees would extremely deteriorate and it’s our responsibility to save these buzzing insects and our ecosystem. Read more about the grave impact meat production has on our eco-system.