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Saving Our Honeybees

Posted by Administrator on 6/22/2013

We’re sure that many of you are aware of the serious situation facing honeybees worldwide. Right here in the United States since 2006, honeybees responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops have been dying by the tens of millions, due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). According to a new report from the US Department of Agriculture, scientists are still struggling to pinpoint the cause of CCD, which has wiped out some 10 million bee hives worth $2 billion, in the last two years. The death rate for colonies has reached 30% in recent years.


If the death toll continues at the present rate, that could mean there will soon be barely enough bees to pollinate almonds, avocadoes, blueberries, pears, plums, etc. Nearly one third of the world’s crops depend on honeybees for pollination, so this could mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.


Scientists believe that several interacting factors are contributing to the massive decline, including poor nutrition, pesticides e.g. neonicotinoids, parasites such as the Varroa mite, loss of natural habitat, pathogens, etc.


Just recently a Wholefoods Market Store store in Rhode Island imagined what a grocery would look like in a world without bees by removing 52 percent of produce off the shelves, demonstrating clearly how the major declines in bee populations threaten fresh food ingredients. In all some 237 of 425 products were removed including apples, avocadoes, carrots, summer squash, celery, cauliflower, leeks, bok choy, kale, lemons, etc., providing a dramatic depiction of how our food supply and indeed our lifestyle is under threat from the declining honeybee population.


To help support bee populations, for every pound of organic summer squash sold at Whole Foods Market stores through June 25, the company will donate 10 cents to The Xerces Society for pollinator preservation.


At the governmental level, the Department of Agriculture recommends stepping up efforts to identify genetic traits in specific bee populations which would make them resistant to the suspected causes of CCD. They have also suggested importing so-called “Old World” bees from Russia and other nations to diversify the breeding stock and build up CCD resistance. Some scientists have already begun to stockpile honeybee serum and germplasm.


And what can we do as individuals? We can protect bees from pesticides by using homemade pest remedies and biocontrols such as ladybugs.  We can also provide a variety of foods for bees – cluster plants with staggered blooming times so there is food throughout the year, also native plants are best. We can provide year-round clean water source in our gardens through rainwater collection systems, a pond, small-scale garden water features, etc. And we can provide shelter for bees, by leaving undisturbed earth and some small patches of dead trees and leaves for wild bees to nest in.



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