Vanishing Bees


I just came across this video and want to share it with you.

Why should you care about GMOs? Because studies have proven they are not safe, because other countries have banned them, and because your food labels may not disclose all the ingredients. Have you ever thought about the corn oil used in your condiments or packaged foods? What about the non-organic fruits and veggies you purchase? What about your pet’s food?

Not only are GMOs unhealthy for consumers, the crops are unhealthy for our pollinating friends (bees, butterflies. etc…) and unhealthy for our local farmer’s pocketbook– GMO crops don’t reseed very well which means repurchasing seeds each season.

Please purchase, garden, and vote wisely.

Mock-orange, sage and rosemary–sound like the description for a room deodorizer? Close, those are the plants in my front yard. In the back yard I have lavender and creosote. I love these native plants and usually so do the bees. In fact, there have been times when the bees were so plentiful I would go in and out of the house via the large garage door for fear of being stung! Silly, I know—bees really don’t pose a threat unless threatened but just in case…

Sadly, today I noticed there are no bees! The sage and lavender have just a few flowers, the rosemary has none. Usually the bees can’t get enough of the rosemary and usually it is covered in blue flowers. The mock orange is covered with buds but no blooms. This is all very strange; where are all my little friends?

Where exactly! For several years now the bee population has been in decline. I wrote a post about the decline of our pollinators in February of 2010—you can read it here. Today I am happy to report that everyday people are getting actively involved in finding a solution, will you join us?

Come on over to the Bee-a-thon being live streamed today at Your Garden Show. In partnership with Citizen Science, Your Garden Show is hosting speakers from around the world discussing the threats facing our pollinators and what we can do to help. While you are there, sign up to Join the Bee Count. Counting the bees only takes fifteen minutes and will assist scientists to map colonies across the United States.

You can make a difference! Simple changes such as decreasing your use of pesticides and including native plants in your landscape will make a large impact over time. After all, a bee-healthy environment will be healthy for everyone!

For more information on the plight of the pollinators and the organizations working to save them, such as the Xerces Society, read my previous post. For wonderful bee inspired artwork visit Pencil and Leaf.

A Bee Enjoying a Rosemary Bush

Invite the Bees to Your Garden

 

This picture of a bee visiting a rosemary bush was taken last week in my front yard. You’ve probably seen a photo like this before on a greeting card, calendar or inspirational poster. It may conjure images of warm, lazy days. Or perhaps you see the bee as a symbol of the promise of spring or Faith and Hope. The fact is the honeybee and its fellow pollinators need more than hope right now.  

For over a decade scientists have been discussing the decline of pollinators. The losses of habitat, use of pesticides, and other stresses have created a marked decline in population. It has been stated that in the United States we have lost over one-third of the honey bee hives, which is over 1,800,000 colonies. This is a costly problem for crop owners and manufacturers of numerous goods who have resorted to shipping farmed bees to new locations. Costly in shipping; costly for the bees.  Shipped bees, both honeybee and bumblebee, are not acclimated to the new surroundings and can become sick. The remaining local bees can be ousted by the new arrivals. Meanwhile the underlying issues are not addressed and the problem escalates.  

You might be asking “why should I care?” The next question is “what can I do?” As for the question of “why exactly this is happening”…that is too large a topic for this blog but I will direct you to other sources.  

Why Should I Care
At least one-third of our food as humans depends on the pollination by bees; not only fruits and vegetables but the grasses which feed the cattle. In fact, twenty-five percent of all animal life depends on plants pollinated by bees. In addition to the food crops bees are necessary pollinators for crops used in textiles, edible and essential oils, plants used in the formulations of medicine and other products which utilize the wax. Let us also not forget the simple things like that bouquet of roses for your loved one or the wildflowers beckoning you to a scenic drive.  

What Can I Do
The best action you can take is to limit your use of pesticides and herbicides. Chemicals toxic to pests are also toxic to pollinators. In the case of social bees these toxins are carried into the hive where they affect other bees, but the larvae still have a chance. For solitary bees the resulting loss of egg laying females affects the numbers more dramatically. A light soap solution or organic deterrent such as plant oils is usually all that is needed for minor pest problems. Better yet, consider companion planting to encourage natural predators such as lacewings, birds and frogs.  

Add native plants to your landscaping. Bees need a variety of plants to supply all the necessary nutrients. A limited diet equals a reduced immune system. A great perk to this is that native plants often require little to no maintenance and add texture and color to your garden.  

Become a Bee Guardian or even a beekeeping hobbyist. A bee guardian simply creates a space for bees to flourish. A beekeeper manages hives and reaps the benefit of harvesting honey.  

Speak up. Encourage biological diversity in your neighborhood and encourage government agencies to create policies based on sustainability.  

For More Information
Organizations:
The Xerces Society is a non-profit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Their website is a plethora of information including scientific updates, endangered species listings and conservation tips.
http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/  

The Ecological Society of America offers case studies, resource listing, policy overviews and more. This website has links too numerous to mention and is well worth the visit.
http://www.esa.org/ecoservices/poll/body.poll.intr.html  

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a good place to begin your search for native plants.
http://wildflower.org/  

In the UK
http://www.soilassociation.org/Takeaction/Savethehoneybee/tabid/434/Default.aspx 

Scientific Papers:
Plant-Pollinator Interactions: A Threatened Mutualism with Implications for the Ecology and Management of Rare Plants
Spira, TP
Natural Areas Journal [Nat. Areas J.]. Vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 78-88. Jan 2001.
http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=5117593&q=&uid=789016456&setcookie=yes  

Science Direct, a database of scientific literature, has an issue on bees.
Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Volume 103, Supplement 1 

Bloggers unite to speak out for the bees on February 17th, 2010.  To view more blogs and articles visit http://www.bloggersunite.org/event/help-the-vanishing-bees 

Visit the Writing Prompt page for today’s corresponding prompt