Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bee Colony Collapse - What can your family do?

The Bees have left! No, this is not my attempt to write science fiction. As weird as it sounds, bees are disappearing. Commercial bee pollinators have lost 23% of their bees this year, and estimates show that up to 70% of the managed bee populations have collapsed. Sooo, what does this mean exactly?

This first came to my attention this spring while I was out at some yard sales. One lady had several items for harvesting honey and making beeswax. She commented several times that her bees had left, so they weren't making honey anymore. I was a little confused, and asked her-"What do you mean your bees left? Did they die?" She said that her bees just left, and have never come back. They are getting confused, and not returning to their hives. This astonished me, so after some research I found out more.

First, I had no idea that there were professional bee pollinators. Did you? These people travel with truck loads of bee hives, and let them loose in an orange grove, or other type of farm for pollination. This is a major industry, and one third of our food depends on this practice. The bees have sophisticated homing mechanisms built into their anatomy, which is what leads them back to their hives, even after traveling miles away. Suddenly, these bees aren't able to find their way back to their colonies.

What can we do about it? This is a complicated question, since experts still don't have the answer to WHY the colonies are collapsing. But here are some suggestions:

  • Plant some bee-friendly plants in your garden. Free seeds can be obtained here.

  • Support your local organic farmers. The use of pesticides is widely thought to be a major factor in the colony collapse.

  • Buy local honey. This is good to do for your children and you if you have allergies, as the honey will build up your immunity to local pollens and allergens.

  • Stop using lawn pesticides and fertilizers. Find organic ways to keep your lawn lush, or even better, conserve water and nature by planting native plants.

  • Go see the Bee Movie, and educate your children about being kind to bees to help preserve their habitats. Visit this site for more info.

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