July 2010 Mission – The Disappearing Bees

Albert Einstein once said, “If the honeybee goes extinct, we have four more years on Earth.”

Bees are central to the systems that support our food production;and play an integral role in maintaining many of the planet’s ecosystems.

An international study of 115 food crops grown in over 200 countries showed that 75% of the crops were pollinated by animals, especially by bees.

Both domesticated bees and wild bees contribute significantly to global pollination, but unfortunately both are facing threats to their survival.

The domestic bee population worldwide is being threatened by several factors. In 1987 apiarists in the United States began noticing that domestic hives were being infested with small mites. Without interference, the mites could destroy a colony of bees in as little as two weeks.

Also, there is a very strange phenomenon named “colony collapse disorder” (CCD), where all the adult bees desert the hive.

Scientists studying CCD are unable to pinpoint a cause, but they have noticed that all the affected hives were subjected to constant migration. They suggest that the process of transporting the hive may weaken the colony in some way

Wild bee populations are also being directly threatened by their exposure to poisonous pesticides,and by human activity, which has caused bee habitat loss. Many bee habitats have been destroyed to make room for crops.

Ironically, the crops which are then planted depend on bee pollination to reproduce: without wild bees to do the job, farmers are then forced to rent domestic bees. Furthermore, the heavy use of pesticides also damages wild bee colonies, which again hurts crops and farmers.

Bees need pollen from specific types of flowering plants, and sometimes these plants only flower during certain times of the year. If a bee population’s habitat is changed or destroyed by human activity, and other types of plant life are introduced to the environment, the bee population may not be able to survive.

Lack of a suitable site to make their home; the use of peticides, and natural parasites, are all contributing to what will eventually be the extinction of our bees!

So. This months mission, is to help our bees survive, and by doing this, help our planet to survive.
The way we can help, is by making our gardens as bee friendly as possible. The following link tells you how you can do this, and if you click on Bee-Friendly Garden builder at the top of the page…it lists all the plants that you nee
d!

http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/index.html

If you don’t have a garden, you can grow the plants in window boxes, or pots on your window sill…..every little helps. Also, please do not use any pesticides in your garden; there are organic options and in fact plants grow better using these….my flourishing organic garden, which is home to hundreds of bees..is testament to that!

Finally, I am adding a link on how to make a bumblebee nest box. You can buy them online, but I thought that making our own, might be fun!

http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/nest_boxes.htm

Please come back and say ‘mission accomplished’ when you have planted your flowers!

When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.

Ramakrishna

L.O.V.E.

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