By now, you’ve most likely read or heard about severely declining populations of honey bees in our world. The shrinkage problem continues with no reversal in sight. If you’re anyway like me, you eat food. All living things must have some food in order to continue living. This fact has a major link with honey bees.
Thanks to the honey bees, we not only have honey for our toast, we have the bread for the toast. We also have the fruits and vegetables and nuts and other grains because of the honey bees. No bees, no eats. It’s that simple. Albert Einstein is credited with the saying, “If bees disappear from the earth, then man will only have four years of life left.” Talk about a wake-up call!
The honey bee crisis is attributed to a problem called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). Unfortunately, there is not simply one factor involved in CCD.
There are pest control solutions meant to control mites that invade the respiratory systems of bees. These are called Varroacides. There are different types of these Varroacides. When honey bees are exposed to one type, the bees may find another type of the Varroacides toxic.
There are problems with Africanized bees. These are hybrid insects that are hostile to our familiar domesticated bees. The unpredictable Africanized bees are also a threat to animal and human populations.
Entomologists Marion Ellis and Blair Siegfried of the University of Nebraska are studying the factors of the declining honey bee numbers. Ellis believes the problems began in 1984 when the tracheal mite appeared in the respiratory systems of bees in isolated colonies. These were followed by the Varroa mites and africanized bees in 1990. Small hive beetles were discovered in 1998. In 2007, Nosema ceranae parasite and the Israeli acute paralysis virus were discovered in the Great Plains.
In addition, there are controversial views that genetically modified crops (GM) are also playing a major role in the bee declines. The GM plants create their own insecticides that apparently have some effect on honey bees.
We don’t need to helplessly sit by and wait for humanity’s demise. We can take steps as consumers and residents to help our buzzing friends. We can plan our homes’ landscaping to incorportate less monoculture like grass to instead bring in clovers and wildflowers. Our lawns, parks and even golf courses could easily incorporate alfalfa, vetches, and mint plants. For borders, we can plant sunflowers and native wildflowers. Butterfly gardens also attract bees. Some good trees and shrubbery might be black locust, butterfly bush, pussy willow, linden, and Russian sage. The best step to take is to make sure that we include a variety of plants to insure that blooms will occur throughout the warmer months.
Try not to use insecticides. But if you absolutely must, make sure to read and follow label directions. It is against the law to spray most insecticides when plants are in bloom.
If this subject interests you at all check out “Save The Hives” organization at: http://www.savethehives.com/ . They are also the home of the “Feral Bee Project”.
The Blue Jay of Happiness reminds us to treat bees and all animals with all due respect and care. You’ll be glad you did!