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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Save the Bees

It's a very cold winter and as I sit in my warm home my thoughts turn to my bees.  I hope they survive the winter. Over the last few years we have ordered bees through the mail and Marisa caught a wild swarm.The odds that bee colonies survive winter have decreased dramatically. According to the USDA, annual losses from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year, with a third of these losses attributed to CCD by beekeepers. The winter of 2011-2012 was an exception, when total losses dropped to 22 percent.

The dramatic drop in bee colonies is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. There are theories as to why bees are disappearing but no one knows for sure. Why should we all be concerned about this?

The USDA site states that "Bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination. Commercial production of many specialty crops like almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables are dependent on pollinated by honey bees. These are the foods that give our diet diversity, flavor, and nutrition."

What can you do to help combat Colony Collapse Disorder? More than you might think.

  • Plant a garden. The easier it is for bees to find nectar and pollen, the less stress they will have. Some of the best plants include red clover, foxglove, bee balm, joe-pye weed, and other native plants.
  • Start a hive. It isn't as hard as you might think. In our prior home we had neighbors that lived on .12 acres that had a hive in there yard.
  • Support beekeepers by buying local honey from them.
  • Sponsor a beehive. There are many organizations that allow you to sponsor a hive. My cousin and his wife recently sponsored a hive in an underdeveloped country for my Aunt's birthday. Not only does that help the bees, it also helps the family that manages the hive.
What will you do to help the bees?



David said...

Michael, my contribution to the bee industry will be to find someone to setup some hives next to my big garden (Terra Nova Gardens). I don't have the time or the interest to care for the hives but just to furnish the space.

Have a great winter day.

daisy g said...

I hope to have a hive at our next homestead, to the dismay of my son. We do support local honey growers and plant flowers that attract bees. They add so much to the garden experience. Great post!

Liz Aaron said...

We just watched a documentary on this. Apparently the pesticides are harming the bees, an organic garden helps with keeping a hive. The bees become disoriented when exposed to a crop that has been sprayed and cannot find their way back to the queen. Pesticides and mono-farming are a huge problem.