Bees are everywhere!…. well at least they used to be.
Swarming around the garden, getting inside of your soda cans when you were just about to take your next sip! And they always seem to find you when you’re out for an afternoon jog, oh man they can be pesky little buggers. But at some point we have to face reality. We may not like or enjoy bees, but we need them in order to secure our survival as a species. Flat out, without bees, we really haven’t much of a chance.
Did you know that Bees pollinate over a third of our food? Its true. And in order to reverse this mass die off, forcing our friendly fliers into extinction, we need to make some major changes starting right now!
One reason they are dying out is because of pesticides. These are harsh chemicals that farmers spray on their crops to keep bugs away. To bees, these pesticides are a poison. A popular pesticide is neonicotinoids which acts as Nicotine to bees. This causes bees to become insane and disoriented. They don’t know how to return home, which led scientists to coin the term Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Bees end up abandoning their hives.
2. Air Pollution
Another reason bees are dying is air pollution. Gasoline from cars, emissions from factories and even smoke from cigarettes can erase a bee’s scent to find food. Flowers smell good for the sake of bees. This scent attracts the bees so they can pollinate the flower and make honey. When this scent cannot be found, it leaves a hive to go hungry. It’s almost like tracking the scent of your favourite meal using only one ingredient. When that ingredient is missing, you cannot find it. When bees cannot pollinate the flowers, they are more likely to die out.
It’s also suspected that bees are dying out due to disease. Varroa mite is a parasite that passes from bee to bee. This parasite is similar to the mosquito with humans. The varroa mite sucks the bee’s blood and, over time, has the ability to shorten the bee’s life. If this is left untreated, it has the capacity to kill out entire hives or colonies. There are a variety of treatments that beekeepers can purchase if this parasite effects their hive, such as formic acid that comes in gel packs.
So how do we save our bees? First and foremost, be aware of the plants in your garden. Plants that are multi-petal are more accessible to bees. These plants often have a wide amount of pollen and nectar which help bees make their honeycomb. On a similar note, the color of the flowers matter. The only color bees struggle to see is red, but they can see all other colors. This helps them to still find flowers throughout the seasons. In addition, they can easily tell the difference between blue and green flowers, while differentiating the various shades of pink.
It also helps to make your yard bee friendly. While the majority of bees nest in hives, this is not always the case. Some bees nest underground or trees. Leave some twigs on the ground or drill holes of various sizes in a tree. A water source, too, helps bees stay in your yard for longer. Just like humans, bees need to drink water. Have a bird bath or a pond in which they can find this natural source of hydration. Just make sure to clean this water out on a daily basis. Clear it of leaves and dirt to avoid any mosquito issues.
Saving the bees may not be an easy job, but we have to do it. They hold our survival in—well, their wings.
Learn more at bringbackthebees.ca