As one of nature’s primary pollinators, honeybees are responsible for one in every three mouthfuls you’ll eat today, and are truly the glue that holds our agricultural system together!
Unfortunately, an epidemic called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which bees mysteriously abandon their hive, has devastated the U.S. honeybee population since at least 2006. This not only puts commercial beekeepers out of business, but also threatens the future of our global food supply. It’s essential that we cultivate a culture of learning to love and live in harmony with bees by understanding what’s killing them and what we can do to save them.
What’s killing the bees?
1. Pesticides—even at what’s considered “safe” levels, these lead to the impairment of honeybee neurological function, like memory and cognition.
2. Biological threats from disease-bearing parasites.
3. Fungicides—bees who eat pollen contaminated with fungicides are three times as likely to be infected by parasites.
4. Antibiotics and miticides used by beekeepers in their colonies.
5. Monoculture farms for commodity crops like wheat and corn provide little pollen, causing foraging honeybees to starve.
6. Malnutrition from a lack of weeds and wildflowers to graze on.
7. Forced migration by commercial beekeepers.
8. Selective commercial breeding.
9. Ingesting chemicals from housekeeping and gardening. (This does not include natural and organic forms of cleaners and pest controls, like the ones created from essential oils.)
What can we do to save the bees?
1. Buy regional and organic food.
2. Buy local, organic, unfiltered honey.
3. Avoid pesticides and fungicides in your garden, and if you must, use ones from natural sources.
4. Grow a pollinator garden with bee-friendly, organic, local plants and flowers, placed together in clusters with flowers of different shapes and colors.
5. Support companies that support bee research and breeding programs.
6. Contact a local beekeeper to safely relocate a hive that’s troubling you, instead of destroying it.
7. Encourage local authorities to use bee-friendly plants in public spaces.
8. Spread the word! Let everyone know how important bees and pollinators are, and the role they play in our fragile ecosystem.
9. Donate to a great bee charity like Honeylove or Urban Beekeepers.
10. Become a beekeeper or find space in your garden for a beehive!
11. Use natural cleaning and gardening products from environmentally friendly sources, such as essential oils derived from plants.
Author: Rainbeau Mars
Editor: Catherine Monkman