Bees are essential to human survival and there decline if of great concern. It is estimate one third of our food is pollinated by bees. In the UK 267 species of bees but around 20,000 worldwide. It has been declared multiple species of bumble and honeybees are extinct. They are essential to our food production and the value of crops pollinated by bees is over half a billion pounds. With declining number less bees means food production costs go up and those costs will be passed on to you. Here 6 facts about bees:
It’s not only honey bees that are vital for foods such as avocados, broccoli, citrus fruits, peaches, kiwis, cherries and cranberries to name a few. Honey bees are even essential to the production of blueberries and almonds. Bees pollinate over 80% of all flowering plants and out of the top 100 crops, bees pollinate 70 of these. One bee colony can pollinate up to 300 million plants daily.
Why are bees dying?
Bees aren’t dying due to one reason alone but as a whole, human activity is to blame. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is when the majority of the worker bees disappear from the colony leaving behind the queen and the nurse bees of the hive to nurse the immature bees. Much of the blame for the cause of CCD is being attributed to pesticides known as neonicotinoids. In short, scientists have long been concerned that these pesticides can change bee behaviour and development. Bees come into contact with neonicotinoids through dust and trace amounts left on nectar and pollen. The pesticides are brought back to the colony when bees return essentially poisoning the hive. This weakens their immune system and leaves them vulnerable to disease and parasites. The parasite, varro mite has been known to scientists since the 1980’s but until bees started disappearing they were thought to be harmless. The parasite attaches itself to the body of the bee and suck their fat bodies. They transfer viruses during this process and a significant mite infestation could lead to the death of a whole colony.
Another contributor to the death of bees is climate change. Due to changing temperatures flower development is being effected which is another factor making lives more difficult for bees. As weather changes, bee behaviour does too. When it rains bees stay inside and when it gets too hot bees gather water to keep to colony cool. When it rains heavily bees also face more trouble as the rain washes pollen away.
What can we do to save bees?
- Plant bee friendly flowers in your garden. Look for flowers that can last sub-zero temperatures.
- Grow from seed.
- Avoid pesticides.
- Buy a bee house to encourage a colony. These can cost less than £10 (UK).
- Use peat-free soil.
There are websites out there dedicated to encouraging you to take steps to encourage bee population growth and protection. My favourite website is https://kabloom.co.uk/. They also donate 10% of all profits to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Bees are essential to our lives so what will be the One Change Now you make today to protect our bees and future generations?