Help the Bees: Crisis News, Pesticides
Breakfast with Bees
Honey bee pollination gives us much of our fruit, nuts, and vegetables. But look what would happen if there were no bees in the world. Dry toast for breakfast! Over 75% of the world’s most important food crops need pollinators. Honey bee numbers are dropping fast. It’s a bee crisis!
If bees are toast, so are we…
To Bee or Not to Bee? A world without bees could be a world without humans. All over the world honey bees are dying: it’s called colony collapse disorder. Humans are to blame: through heavy use of pesticides, spreading viruses, poor bee diet (monocultures), destroying habitats, and climate change. All of these have most likely stressed and weakened bees. ‘Rather than an insidious epidemic, CCD is death by a thousand cuts.’ [Source: NZ Geographic]
Honey bee losses:
- Feral (wild) bees now extinct in United States (and probably in NZ).
- United States and Canada, a 30% loss from hives in 2011.
- England, a 50% loss over the past 25 years
- Europe, a 25% loss over past 25 years.
Things You Can Do To Help Bees:
- Plant trees, bushes, flowers. Bees love lavender, heather, thyme, Californian lilac.
- Leave some of your lawn to grow wild- it provides shelter and attracts helpful bugs.
- Avoid using chemicals on plants and near water. Put out drinking water for bees in shallow containers.
- Look after other pollinators: bumblebees, native bees, butterflies.
- Make a nest for native bees (small, non-stinging!). Download pdf plan .
- Eat local honey.
Support Beekeeping in Poor Communities
1. Bees For Development is a charity which works to combat poverty through beekeeping. They promote beekeeping skills in poor communities — relieving poverty and boosting the environment at the same time. Their patron is the singer Sting, of course. (Photo: Paolo Roversi). Visit their excellent website: Bees For Development.
2. Tear Fund: The Bees Knees fund will help a family start a beekeeping business by giving them a beehive and training (eg. in Nepal).
3. Oxfam: Plan B helps struggling women in Ethiopia take up beekeeping, so they can earn a living and break free from poverty.
Pesticide Effects on Bees (extracts from UN Bee Report):
…pesticides can weaken the honey bee’s immune system and hamper bees’ ability to fight infection…Systemic insecticides which migrate all the way to the flowers, can potentially cause toxic chronic exposure to non-target pollinators… such chemicals can cause losses of sense of direction, impair memory and brain metabolism, and cause mortality.
Superb books on the crisis: A World Without Bees by Alison Benjamin; Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen.
Bee rap/dance (watch the full video at Help the Honey Bee)