Sunday, April 27, 2014

“The keeping of bees is

like the direction of sunbeams.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau
 I have been reading lately about the demise of bees.  One of the articles was quite blunt: "Bees are pulling a disappearing act. Honeybees are vanishing from their hives. Bumblebee numbers have crashed so radically that some species are believed extinct. Even native solitary bees are in decline. Food supplies dependent upon pollinators are threatened."

Bees play a vital role in our agricultural system, making the care and protection of bees critical to the future of our planet’s food security. In fact, more than 75 percent of the plants on our planet rely on bees for pollination.
In 2006, one third of the bees in the United States disappeared, more than 800,000 hives. At 30,000 bees per hive, that’s 24,000,000 million bees. David Hackenburg, one of America’s largest beekeepers, thinks that neonicotinic pesticides may play a role in recent pollinator declines.

Hackenburg states further, “Imidacloprid is approved for everything. All I'm saying is, you go buy this stuff at Wal-Mart to use on aphids or grubs or whatnot, and the little insert from the chemical company says straight out that it, 1) makes bugs quit eating, and 2) induces memory loss and confusion. Then, 3) it gives them a nervous system disorder. And that's exactly what's happening to bees.  I know many of the scientists refuse to go out on a limb and state emphatically that there's a link here, but what about common sense? But then I'm just a dumb beekeeper who's been beekeeping for 45 years. What do I know?"
As insect pollinators, bees broaden our diets beyond meats and wind-pollinated grains. An estimated one-third of all foods and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honeybees, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. Pollinators also are essential for flowering plants and entire plant communities.
Bee friendly gardens are easy to create.  Eliminate or change the way you apply pesticides. Don’t use them on plants that are blooming. Apply them at night when bees are less active. Spray from ground level to reduce drift and create buffer zones next to agricultural areas. Rethink the use of herbicides, which reduce pollinator food sources by removing flowers from the landscape.
Ideally, when you are creating a bee garden, you should position your bee plants in groups since it makes it easier for the pollinators to locate. Importantly, it also conserves vital energy stores, meaning more nectar and pollen can be returned to the colony.  I also read that traditional plants not the fancy hybrids are better since they have more nectar.  Herbs are good also for attracting get flavor and so do the bees!   Of course, native wildflowers are winners also.

So, busy bees out we celebrate Earth Day again, create a little bee garden...and if you are in the area, stop in for our "bee-u-ti-ful" pillows (can be used for inside or outside and are made in the USA), candles, and other bee bling!
And, hopefully, we can prevent this--a line from Maurice Maeterlinck's The Life of the Bee: “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” 

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