"SOS!" cries the Bee
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
It’s National Honey Bee Day this Saturday and how appropriate that here at BioAg Linkages we are celebrating from “The Beehive State” where even the baseball team is called the Bees.
Utah is home to more than 900 different native bee species. That’s about a ¼ of the different types of bees found in North America, the most found in one area. We are very proud to celebrate this time of year to raise awareness about, not just the honey bee, but bees in general.
Aware of what?
Some of you may know that for the first time several species of bees have been placed on the endangered species list. Without bees pollinating flowers our crops can’t produce harvests and humans aren’t exactly made to do pollinating ourselves.
In the last year honey bee colony losses were estimated at 37.7% during the winter. That’s 7% higher than last year. When Scott Larsen, a local BeeKeeper and Honey harvester of Heber City, Utah, was he child he said the loss was as low as 3-4%. The losses during the summer are up as well.
For those who don’t know it’s a number of things. Several factors being from environmental causes. Global warming being one of them which effects plant growth. One bee known as the gourd bee pollinates gourd fruit, but with the rising temperatures the plants don’t produce enough blossoms for the bee to keep up its population numbers.
Don’t think that’s the only way temperatures affect them. With higher temperatures bees have to compensate taking back nectar for water to keep their hives cool. This means less honey in a year from each hive.
Third environmental change is their habitat. It’s shrinking. What’s causing it? We are of course.
With more buildings going up and more farms spreading out this means less flowers that naturally produce a lot of nectar for the bees. Sometimes peak flowering season coincides directly with peak harvesting such as with alfalfa. This means they have less time to gather from flowers before they’re gone.
Next up is insecticide. When farmers spray to kill unwanted pests over their crops a lot of these chemicals don’t differentiate between a hungry grub and the helpful little native bee buzzing about. Poor little bees don’t stand a chance.
To counter this, many farmers, try to spray at night to try not to hurt the bee. While the more commonly used insecticide in the states doesn’t kill the bee there does seem to be some correlation between its usage and obstructing their homing beacon. Lost bees mean dead bees.
Here at BioAg we actually have materials that are perfectly safe and created to work alongside bees with no negative effects on their activities or environment.
This effect has been on the rise the last few years. One of the worst here in the states is American foulbrood, which kills the baby bees before they can hatch. After it kills the babies it spreads spores through the colony killing it off. Hungry bees from other hives then take the honey left over taking with them the spores perpetuating the cycle.
What’s worse is with bees not making as much honey around the country farmers send their hives to California. There nearly 750,000 acres of almonds need to be pollenated, each needing 2 hives on average equating to roughly 1.5 million hives needed. This is great for beekeepers as the farmers pay them about $150 per hive to use for 6 weeks or so making up to 50% of their income.
But with bees becoming sick in various places of the country it’s causing them to spread diseases to bees all over the country.
What can we do?
There are a few ways we can celebrate our busy little flower harvesters.
Just be nice to them. People can be scared of getting stung but losing many of our fruits and vegetables is scarier. Learn about how bees are wonderful and share it with a friend.
Plant bee friendly flowers. Local wildflowers in your area are great for the health of bees and are beautiful accents to your garden. Don’t have a garden? See if there is a community garden you can be a part of.
Buy local honey. Helping local honey farmers means they don’t have to compensate their income helping prevent the spread of diseases. Plus, raw honey is so good for you.
What ever you do, please, celebrate with us where ever you are in the world in your own way your appreciation for the busy bee. Are you going to enjoy raw honey treats? Plant flowers? Tour a domestic bee colony? We’d love to know. Share with us down below.
How are bees doing in your country? Is it different from what’s happening in the states? Have any more facts we didn’t get to cover? Do you have anything you’d like to hear about from us in the future? Let us know.
Special thanks to Scott Larsen who helped with this article. Check out these other sources we used to get some of our Bee Facts: