Bee Crisis - What You Can Do

My brother, a surgeon who farms in Ohio for recreation, has started bee keeping for fun and for helping to solve the world honeybee crisis.

Bees, the world’s star pollinators, have been dying off by the millions in the last fifty years. Some commercial bee keepers have lost 80 to 90 percent of their hives. That’s why America farmers are importing bees from as far away as Australia, and in parts of China, humans with long feather dusters have taken on the job of pollinating their crops.

What’s The Big Deal?

Dead bees -- big deal? Oh, yes. No bees, no blueberries. No bees, no apple pies. No bees, no strawberries. One third of the human diet comes from insect pollinated plants, and we can thank the honeybee for 80 percent of that.

In a recent Congressional committee hearing one bee expert asked, “How would our federal government respond if one in three cows was dying?”

World-Class Disaster

This mysterious die-off is a world-class disaster. Experts point the finger of blame to a hostile environment -- viruses, parasites, fungal diseases, mites, and agricultural insecticides that are now frequently used by home gardeners.

They also say bees are starving. Pollen and nectar of flowers are all a bee eats. Yes, the lack of flowers is one reason bees are starving.

Native Bees to The Rescue

Native bees, who now pollinate back yard and community gardens in New Jersey are stepping in to do the job of honeybees. If you’ve ever successfully grown tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, melons, and strawberries, native pollinators likely had a hand in your harvest. Indeed, the bee that sucks nectar from my zinnias in plot #61B may be the bee that pollinates your tomato and zucchini plants. You can help.

Feed the Bees

Plant bee-friendly gardens at Crows Woods and at home. Bees like blues and purples, yellows, violets, and white flowers. Try cone flowers, sunflowers, daisies, black eyed Susans, zinnias, salvia, mint, thyme, borage, sedum, aster, -- yes, and dandelions. Remember this. Lawns don’t feed bees. Flowers do.

Limit Use of Insecticides and Pesticides

That spray or powder – even organic stuff – that you use to kill the bad guys also kills the good guys. One researcher found 195 pesticides in bee pollen. Worker bees carry these poisons into the hives. Here’s a thought. You can start saving the world – one bee at a time.

Mary T. Previte, Plot #21