Give Bees A Chance

15 Aug

Many people have heard about the “disappearance of honey bees” (Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD) which has been attributed to things like increased cell phone use and radiation.  More recently however, research has pointed towards the use of pesticides in conventional farming practices as the primary cause.
As it relates to our August food theme –  all the buzz around the missing bees has brought public attention to both the decrease in honey production as well as the importance of pollination that bees accomplish.

Plants that produce almonds, cucumbers, alfalfa, apricots, blackberries, cherries, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, watermelon, etc.  must be pollinated to produce fruit.  See a more complete list here.
Other plants, such as eggplant, grapes, okra, peppers, and strawberries,  will produce fruit on their own but the yield and quality would be improved through honey bee pollination.
The survival of these food crops depends on the survival of a healthy honey bee population.
In terms of how we as individuals can encourage this, there are a few  simple things we can do…

  1. Buy organic produce
    While more research is needed to understand exactly which chemicals are harming honey bees (and how), choosing to buy produce that hasn’t been treated with any chemical pesticides is a good precaution to take at this time to minimize the damage pesticides may have on honey bee populations. When it comes to the survival of pollinators (that facilitate the survival of crops that feed us!) it’s far better to be safe than sorry! (taken from in.gredients)
  2. Plant gardens to encourage pollination
    Flowers attract insects by providing them with two rich sources of food – nectar and pollen. Nectar contains sugars and provides insects with an energy source, while pollen grains contain proteins and oils.  (taken from Plants for Pollinators).  The greater the plant diversity, the more bees and other wildlife your garden will attract and support. Always try to choose as many native plants as possible, and consult with local nursery staff or other experts to find vegetation that will thrive in your specific conditions. (taken from the daily green)
  3. Encourage bees to nest in your backyard.
    Nest boxes containing cardboard tubes or hollow plant stems, or holes drilled in blocks of wood will provide nest sites for some species of solitary bees.  Or put an ad out inviting small scale beekeepers to keep bees on your property (it’s not as scary as you think).

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