“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Albert Einstein
The honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. It started in the early 2000's.
Bee Keepers worldwide were experiencing 50% - 70% dye off rates. That means for every 10 hives only 3 would survive the next year. And Yes, this is STILL going on with Colonies still experiencing 40-51% die off rates every year with the 2015-2016 season reporting 44% average Losses. You may be asking, then so many years how do we have any bees left? Luckily, bee keepers are able to split their hives to produce more every year and introduce new queens. This is obviously not a sustainable solution. For years and years, no one knew what was going on. They called it Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) because at the beginning of the year when bee keepers checked their hives ALL the bees were gone save the queen. Scientists were baffled.
It’s not just the honey bees who are in danger but many native pollinators are in danger, one Hawaiian Bee was just put on the endangered species list in 2016.
Did you know, Honey Bees (being from Europe) are poor pollinators of Tomatoes (Being from the Americas) so Tomato farmers use Bumble Bees in their greenhouses for pollination.
What Bees Do for Me
You can thank a pollinator for one out of every three bites you eat. Bees help produce more than 100 types of crops, everything from almonds to watermelons. It's estimated that bees are responsible for about one in every three bites of food in the United States. That's a crop value of $15 Billion. They’re also vital to the clover and alfalfa that feed beef and dairy cows. In other words, if you care about food, you need to care about bees.
Honey Bees are a keystone species; the survival of a large number of other species depend on them. They are also an indicator species, meaning that the viability and health of bee populations provide a snap-shot of the health of the ecosystem.
In late 2006, North American beekeepers began to report mysterious losses of entire colonies. This phenomenon, known as “Colony Collapse Disorder,” focused international attention on honey bee decline·
It's estimated that bees are responsible for about one in every three bites of food in the United States. That's a crop value of $15 Billion.
- Habitat Loss
- Weak immune systems from:
- Feeding Bees High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Trucking the bees up and down the coast for different seasonal blooms like almonds and blueberries
- Selective Breeding
- Mite infestations
- Virus and Fungul invasion
- Residential Killing of Dandelions. (The Bee's First food of the spring after a long winter)
The Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder
Finally the culprit was found in Europe (Neonicotinoids) a type of pesticide which attacks the nerve system of insects. This caused the bees to lose their way back to the hive which is why they were never seen again. European countries have banned these types of pesticides but they are still prevalent in the United States.
What are neonicotinoids?
"Neonicotinoids are a broad spectrum pesticide that get their name from their basic chemistry because it is close to that of nicotine," said Delaplane, emphasizing that the neonics, as they are often called, are not the same as nicotine. The neonicotinoids affected by the EPA's regulatory move are imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The neonicotinoid family also includes acetamaprid. They gained popularity in agricultural and commercial ornamental production because they are effective against a wide range of insect pests and considered less hazardous to humans and other vertebrates than other insecticides.
"The hallmark of neonicotinoids is that they are systemic," Delaplane added. That means they travel throughout a plant via its vascular system and distribute the chemical to all parts of the plant tissue 24/7, including its nectar and pollen.
“Neonicotinoids are used by farmers on about 140 different crops, including corn, canola and soy. But despite truth-twisting marketing from producers, there is little evidence that neonicotinoids actually improve yields. They do, however, kill bees by damaging their nervous systems, weakening their memories and impeding their ability to forage and fly." "US News
A study conducted by Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 70 percent of pollen and honey collected from local bee populations contained traces of neonicotinoids at levels high enough to have "detrimental health effects." Another study found that over half of plants purchased at major garden stores contain neonicotinoids. The levels present in many were high enough to kill bees instantly.”
Residential Spraying of Herbicides and Pesticides
Pesticides are designed to kill all insects indiscriminately!
Who says Dandelion's are weeds!?
Did you know that Dandelions are the first flower which feed the bees after their long winter slumber? If they bees have not collected enough honey or if there is a long winter, they Bees depend desperately on the first flowers with sufficient nectar to support the hive. Without the dandelions Local Bee Colonies are at risk.
Lack of Diverse Food (aka Monocropping)
Would you like to eat the same thing every day? Neither do bees, but we put colonies in large monocultures to pollinate just one type of plant. Commercial Bee Keepers start in the South in California and Florida to pollinate the oranges. They then stack all the bees on the semis and truck them up the coast throughout the season until they end up in the north for the blueberries. The bees need a diverse source of nutrition to raise their baby bees and maintain a healthy hive. No wonder the Bees are now more prone to Mites, other parasites, and disease.
How to Help
"We are all beekeepers. Plant flowers keep native bees!"
- Plant pollinator flower seeds.
- Plant pollinator flowers around your garden. Not only will it help the pollinators, increase your yield by attracting pollinators, but it will also create habitat for many predatory insects. Save the bees and get rid of the bugs that eat your garden.
- Each order of any Simply Bee Products will receive a FREE packet of pollinator wild flower seeds. They are lovely additions to your yard or gardens.
- Create Habitat
- Love thy Dandelion!
- Dandelion's are the first flowers to bloom in the spring. The bees depend on these early blooms to refuel after a long winter of eating their honey stores. Let those beautiful yellow flowers grow.
- Did you know Dandelions are edible? Dandelions have been eaten for centuries. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. Even the blossoms can be made into a delicious wine.
- Don't Spray with chemicals
- Retail Neonicotinoid Products to Avoid. Thanks to Sangre de Cristo Beekeepers.
- Save the Swarms!
- The natural reproduction of Bees is to split in the spring, where half the hive and the old queen go look for a new home. This is called Swarming. If you see a large group of bees in one of your trees, do not spray them. Google search for bee swarm collection in your area. There are tons of competitive bee keepers who will come out for free to take them to a good home. If they have decided your home, is just the home for them. Do NOT spray them. There are plenty of bee keepers in your area who specialize in humanely removing the bees.
Here at Simply Bee Organics we dedicate our passion and resources to setting up pollinator meadows near community gardens, community areas, organic farms and gardens to help rebuild our diminishing honey bee and native pollinator populations. Contact us for information on how to help us in Colorado or for information on how to start these type of initiatives in your home town. If you are interested in starting a pollinator meadow in your community or farm, contact us below to work with us or for more information.
In the Neighborhood
Did you know there are more than 4,000 species of native bees that live in the United States and Canada? They range from as small as 1/10 of an inch to over an inch. 95% of them are solitary and live in the ground or in wood. Especially the small bees can only go a few blocks without needing a flower to refuel. Through creating pollinator safe neighborhoods, you are helping to supply habitat and jumping off points for these little bees to forage the nectar and pollen they so desperately need. Check out this TED TALK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeXcNpVkezI
- Get your neighbors involved. Become a polinator safe neighboorhood corrdinator!
- Fore more information visit: https://peopleandpollinators.org/pollinator-safe
- Support Local Pollinator Friendly Legislation
- Join a Pollinator Friendly Organization in your area
- Colorado: https://peopleandpollinators.org/leadership-for-pollinators/
Reference and links for more Info on Pollinators and Conservation
- U.S. Forest Service Pollinator Information
- The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
- The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
- The Economic Impacts of Pollinator Declines: An Approach to Assessing the Consequences
- The Economic Impacts of Pollinator Declines: An Approach to Assessing the Consequences
- Pollinator Partnership for Information and Resources
- BugGuide - Insect Identification
- Bee Identification and Urban Bee Gardens
- An Introduction to Our Native Bees