Everyone has a role in protecting Honey Bee health - whether you are a beekeeper, farmer, pesticide applicator, home gardener, or a consumer of the many fruits and vegetables they make possible.
Honey Bees are one of our most essential insects and the world's most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees. This includes over 100 fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries, almonds, apples and cucumbers.
Not only do Honey Bees pollinate our fruits and vegetables, they also support the herbs we use to season our foods, cotton for clothing, clover and alfalfa - which is the main feed for the cattle industry from which we get yogurt, milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, dairy and beef.
Coffee beans depend on pollination for increased yields. There are flowers for our special occasions, beeswax used in the cosmetic industry, and let’s not forget honey!
In total, bees contributed to more than $15 billion to U.S. crop production in last year.*
Why Are Honey Bees Dying?
The average person sitting down to dinner probably doesn’t realize the important role bees played in preparing that meal. Here’s something that might surprise you: One out of every three mouthfuls of food in the American diet is, in some way, a product of honeybee pollination—from fruit to nuts to coffee beans. And because bees are dying at a rapid rate (42 percent of bee colonies collapsed in the United States alone in 2015), our food supply is at serious risk.
The bee’s plight is widespread: Serious declines have been reported in both managed honeybee colonies and wild populations. Jennifer Sass, an NRDC senior scientist, says there are multiple factors at play. Each on its own is bad enough, but combined they are quickly proving too much to handle.Pesticides:
These chemicals are designed, of course, to kill insects. But some systemic varieties—specifically neonicotinoids—are worse for bees than others.Loss of Habitat:
As rural areas become urban, the patches of green space that remain are often stripped of all weeds and their flowers, which bees rely on for food.Climate change:
Unusually warm winters have caused plants to shift their schedules. When bees come out of hibernation, the flowers they need to feed on have already bloomed and died.Disease:
Pathogens carried by mites weaken bees, which makes them more susceptible to pesticide poisoning. On the flip side, if bees are already weakened by pesticides, they’re more vulnerable to disease.
It’s hard to imagine a world without bees, but we know the impacts on our food supply would be significant. (Think way less varied and much more expensive.) Industry is scrambling to manage the crisis, with commercial farmers securing healthy honeybee hives from wherever it can find them and transporting them around the country to pollinate crops.
The rest of us can help, too. One of the things we can most control are pesticides.. Anyone with outdoor space—from a container garden to a large lawn—can create a pesticide-free, safe space for pollinators that will encourage native bees and other beneficial insects.
We can also make sure to purchase plants that aren’t pretreated with pesticides by asking questions when we shop for seeds and flowers. We can let our lawns grow a bit longer and leave the blooming clover for bees to enjoy. We can encourage our elected officials to pass county and town ordinances to reduce pesticide spraying, and we can urge corporations to stop making and selling neonicotinoids.
It’s time to pay back the tiny, struggling pollinators that do so much for us, especially at mealtime. * *
Things You Can Do to Make a Difference:
Plant a pollinator friendly garden patch of any size
Switching from pesticides to natural or organic alternatives
Provide a water source such as a shallow bird bath with rocks in it.
If you see a swarm or have a colony of bees which has taken up residence in an unwanted area contact us or a local beekeeper for removalWhat Does a Honey Bee Look Like?
Honey bees measure about 15 mm long and are light brown in color. They are usually oval-shaped with golden-yellow colors and brown bands. Although the body color of honey bees varies between species and some honey bees have predominantly black bodies, almost all honey bees have varying dark-to-light striations. These light and dark stripes serve a purpose for the survival of the honey bee: unlike other species that hide when they sense predators close by, the brightly colored bodies of the honey bee act as a warning to predators of the honey bees’ ability to sting
In the wild, honey bee hives are often located in the holes of trees and on rock crevices. The hive is made from wax from the special abdominal glands of worker honey bees. Workers sweep up a few flakes of wax from their abdomens and chew these flakes until the wax becomes soft. Workers then mold the wax and use it in making cells to form the hive. Unlike other bee species, honey bees do not hibernate during cold periods. Instead, they remain inside the nests huddled closely together, sharing body heat and feeding on stored food supplies
Honey bees are social creatures and live in colonies. However, they do display some aggressive behavior within colonies: drones are ejected from their nests during cold weather, and a queen will sometimes sting other queens during mating fights for dominance. Although honey bees serve a significant role in pollination and ecology, measures should be taken to ensure that hives do not exist in close proximity to your home, due to the possibility of getting stung. Always contact a pest control professional before attempting to address an infestationSome Amazing Honey Bee Facts:
The honey bee has been around for millions of years.
Honey Bees, scientifically also known as Apis mellifera, which mean "honey-carrying bee", are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators
It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man
The honey bee's wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz.
A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work
The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime
Each honey bee colony has a unique odor for members' identification
The bee's brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance traveled and foraging efficiency
Only worker bees sting, and only if they feel threatened and they die once they sting. Queens have a stinger, but they don't leave the hive to help defend it
Foraging bees have to fly about 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey, visiting around 2 million flowers.
____________________________________________________________Here are some organizations we support and encourage you to as well!
NH Honey Bee Habitat Restoration
http://www.nwhoneybee.org/The Honey Bee Conservancy
http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/Planet Bee Foundation
http://www.planetbee.org/Honey Bee Health Coalition
* National Geographic News, May 2013
** National Resources Defense Council