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In the span from April 2015 to April 2016 the United States lost 44 percent of its honey bee colonies, so close to half that it should be frightening to anyone reading this. It’s not just the honey bees that are dying, but many people don’t even know this is a thing and some people don’t realize the ramifications of such a loss. According to an article in Time magazine earlier this year, there are more than 700 species of bees that are seeing a decline in their populations. That on top of the plight of the Monarch butterfly means bad things for the beautiful flowers many people enjoy each spring and summer, but it also means far worse things for the human population.
Why are they dying? While there is generally a winter die-off in bee populations, usually about 17 percent of a colony for beekeepers, the increased rates could be blamed on pesticides. Chemicals used to kill other bugs that damage crops are also killing the bees that are meant to help those crops.
Why are bees important?
The first step in understanding why the loss of bee populations is devastating is to understand why bees are important to nature. Honey isn’t the only commodity that comes from bees. Without bees of all sorts of species, plants and flowers wouldn’t get pollinated. Pollination, which is the transfer of pollen from one plant to another of the same species, is what fertilizes plants. If a plant doesn’t go through the fertilization process it will not bear fruit or grow vegetables, or become the future food item that humans need for energy and survival.
Saving the bees, including the honey bee, is important because humans would starve without them. With no fruits and vegetables to eat the population would go through a famine. Eating a diet of animal products only would lead to even more obesity and heart disease, plus the farm animals would die out since they eat a plant based diet too.
The ability to eat is definitely more important than concern for beauty in your front yard, but it is still important to understand that a loss of bees would also mean a loss of flowers. There will be no more need to “stop and smell the roses” when the roses are no longer blooming because the bee population has gone extinct and wasn’t around to pollinate and fertilize.
How can you help the bees?
For eco-conscious people, your first thought after learning about the decline in bee populations and why it’s important to put an end to their deaths may be how you can help. The good thing is that you can actually help. There are a few things everyone can do in order to help bees.
- Planting a bee friendly garden
Consider planting some flowers that are attractive to bees and even butterflies. Think about the types of honey you find in the store and let that help guide you. You also want to go for colorful flowers. Some weeds are beneficial as well, like clover (for the bees) and milkweed (for the butterflies).
- Avoid the use of pesticides
Don’t use dangerous pesticides on your home garden or on your farm. Consider an organic approach to dealing with pests that could damage the food you’re growing. There are plenty of eco-friendly and DIY remedies you can use when it comes to growing a healthier garden that won’t kill the bees.
- Don’t kill them!
Please understand that bees are not out to harm you. If you get stung it’s because the bee felt threatened by you for some reason (you were too close to its hive, keeping it from its food source, etc.). If you have a hive that is in a bad place call someone to have it moved rather than destroyed.
- Consider becoming a beekeeper
If you really want to make a difference you should consider becoming a beekeeper. You can buy a beekeeping kit that comes with a colony and a queen, and all of the stuff you need to get started. You’re mainly going to need the yard space for it and to not have a fear of bees!
Bees are an important part of nature, so do what you can to help them out, even if it’s just rehoming them from inside your house back outside instead of swatting them with a fly swatter.