There has been a lot talk the past few years about the honeybee. The buzzing insects many of us have taken for granted are in danger. Why does that matter to us, you ask? We did our research and found out why these hard-working insects are necessary for us, why they are in trouble, and what we can do help them fly along their labor-intensive and pleasant way.
Honeybees have been at risk for a while now; in fact they are in such danger that at this point, it is considered an epidemic. They have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Specialists believe it has to do with more than one problem. First and foremost, the harmful pesticides used on many big farm fields are a big threat to bees. Some pesticides will directly kill bees when pollinating, or bees will return to their hive after visiting these fields and die. Other types of pesticides affect the bee’s brain, making them a little slower and hindering their ability to smell floral scents, nectar, and pollen. Other causes thought to be responsible for the honeybee epidemic are pests and parasites, fungal disease, and certain viral diseases. More recently beekeepers and scientists have become even more concerned with an even scarier problem: Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Colony Collapse Disorder is what is now thought to be the biggest threat to honeybees, and the jury is still out on pinpointing the exact cause of CCD. It is believed to have started in 2006, when beekeepers began to notice a decline of 30- to a whopping – 90% percent decline in each of their colonies. While specialists get down to the bottom of this mysterious bee illness there are plenty small things we can do to help, but why should we care about the bees, you ask?
Imagine your garden in all its bountiful glory. Flowers have colorful blooms, fruits are heavy on the vine, and vegetables are abundant in the earth… Without the determined honeybee, none of this would possible. Pollination is Mother Nature’s way of keeping our plants and flowers growing to their full potential, and bees are the most terrific pollinators.
Bees are known as hard workers for a good reason. It is estimated that nearly one third of all the food grown and consumed in the US is dependent on bee pollination and almost 71% of the world’s most in-demand crops rely on bees. Honeybee pollination is critical for our food supply and until recently we have taken them for granted.
Aside from picking up beekeeping as a hobby, there are a few other things we can do to help revive our honeybee population. Stop using insecticides on your home garden and plant brightly colored, sweet smelling bee friendly flowers and trees like crabapples, primrose, Dahlias, raspberries, pumpkins, and squash. (For the best bee attraction use variety in your garden.) Support our local beekeepers and buy local honey and other useful artisan bee made products. Build or buy a home for wild bees—no need to worry too much about getting stung, bees are not natural aggressors, they only attack when they feel threatened. Look into adopt-a-bee programs, like the local Frangiosa Farm. Also look for petitions circulating on the web about pesticide use and big-farm practices.
Fun Facts about Bees:
The queen may lay 600-800 or even 1,500 eggs each day during her 3 or 4 year lifetime. This daily egg production may equal her own weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
Honeybees will usually travel approximately 3 miles from their hive.
Honeybees fly at 15 miles per hour.
Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using scent.
To make one pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees.
Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.
It would take about 1 ounce of honey to fuel a honeybee’s flight around the world.
Honeybees never sleep!