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How to Save the Bees

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How To Save The Bees

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Table of Contents

  • Death by poison
  • Taking Care of Bees
  • References:

Contrary to popular belief, honey bees play a major role in the survival of mankind. The rapid decline in the bee population is threatening America’s food security. One third of agricultural production relies on pollination, especially that from honey bees (Riscu and Bura p1). Honey bees are dying at an alarming rate. This is due to pollution, pesticides, neglect, and colony collapse disorder or CCD. In order so save the honey bees people need to first understand what they do. More people need to be trained in beekeeping to allow future bees to thrive and help control the rapid number of declining honey bees. Understanding Honey bees

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Bees are very complex insects that help maintain and balance the ecosystem. Honey bees major intent is to form a hive. This is comprised of comb, which is the foundation of the hive. Workers will continue making the foundation even after the queen is settled and starts laying eggs. The queen will continue to lay eggs, usually in a confined place called the brood comb or nest. The queen is capable of laying up to 2,000 eggs in a single day. Once the eggs are laid they soon turn into larvae, where they are fed and cared for by young workers (Lovett p3). This helps maintain the hive in numbers, and in food for the winter months. Bees communicate through chemicals and pheromones. Each hive has its own distinctive smell allowing bees to know exactly where they belong. Returning foragers also communicate directions with what scientists call the “waggle dance” and a round dance. The round dance is performed when pollen or nectar is usually within 100 feet of the hive. Where as the “waggle” is performed when food sources are further away from the hive. The returning forager will dance in a pattern that looks much like a figure 8. Bees imagine the sun as always being at the top of the hive. For instance, if the food is Save the Bees90 degrees to the left of the sun. The forager will then perform the waggle with her head facing in that direction. Bees can tell which way is up by using gravity and they can follow the dancer by feeling the wind of her buzzing wings (Feken, Gerber, Given, Hunt, Krupke, Johnson, Obermeyer, Smith, Steeger, Whitford p.14).

The male’s only role is to mate with the queen. They have no stinger and rarely leave the hive. Drones, male bees, have a short life span. Whenever they mate with the queen he generally will not survive. The honey bees main objective, other than reproducing, is gathering food. Some of the nectar that is gathered is formed into “royal jelly” and the rest gets turned into honey. Once the honey has fermented it is preserved with a cap layer of beeswax. Each member of the hive has a very specific job in order to maintain the harmony of the hive. If one member gets sick or dies it affects the entire colony. Importance of Honey BeesThe growth of agricultural production is 10-15 times higher than honey, wax, etc., production achieved by pollinating bees.

According to a Cornell University study, honey bee pollination to U.S. agriculture is valued at more than $14 billion annually (Hacker p.1). Honey bees give farmers a natural and clean production of fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Pollinators can be a farmers only real chance to have a substantially fruitful harvest. It is not just about keeping one or two hives of bees and it is not always easy. Farmers who have hundreds, even thousands of acres of crops, need to have three times the amount of colonies. California’s 420,000 acres of almond trees take between 900,000 to 1 million honey bee colonies(cite 3rd article). The average Save the Beesnumber of bees in a colony is roughly 80,000 bees. Which is why farmers do not need to rely on wild bees to nest near their crops. The chances of having enough bees to support their crops is slim to none. They will either contract with local beekeepers or start keeping bees themselves. Farmers who keep bees tend to have a better crop than the ones that do not. Especially, if the bee hives are placed close to their fruit or vegetable bearing fields. High crop pollination will produce a higher yield of vegetables and fruits. “One mouthful in three of the foods you eat directly or indirectly depends on pollination by honey bees”(Hackett, p.1 the 3rd article).

David Mann of Mann Farms is a great example of high yield crops. He has huge bee hives placed all throughout his fields and has a thriving business due to the bees. The bees help him and in turn he helps the bees. His strawberries are always big and juicy, and better than those you buy from the grocery stores. Everything his farm produces is always abundant and taste better than those raised in a hot house, unnaturally, with growth hormones. Without the bees there would be no more coffee, strawberries, apples, cucumbers, cherries, avocados, and so much more. Regardless of the way people feel about the honey bees, mankind relies on them for survival. Einstein said, “The fact that once the bees cease to exist, humanity has only four years to extinction, seems now truer than ever”(Riscu and Bura p1).

Death by poison

The leading cause in the decline of honey bees is due to pesticides. Efforts to restrict pesticide application during bloom has provided some relief (Riscu and Bura p2). Pesticides do not directly harm the bees. It is when the poison is transported into the hive through nectar or Save the Beespollen that affect the bees. It has such a substantial effect, that over time, the entire colony will be destroyed. Pesticide death is a slow process and will eventually kill the entire hive. One by one the bees will start dying off. Which causes the honey production to become less and less. Honey is what the bees eat during the winter. So if there is not enough honey to sustain the hive the bees will eventually starve to death. The EPA is helping in regulating the use of many pesticides. While their longstanding regulatory requirements for pesticides are designed to protect beneficial insects such as bees, since 2007 they have been taking action to protect pollinators (Pollinator Protection). They have many policies in effect that help protect bees from pesticide sprays and dust applications. There are legitimate concerns for honey bees, because some insecticides will kill bees at very low concentrations (Feken, Gerber, Given, Hunt, Johnson, Krupke, Obermeyer, Smith, Steeger, Whitford 42).

Taking Care of Bees

There are many ways that people can help take care of bees. Not just by keeping hives, which is no easy task. It is vital that everyone tries to do their part in taking care of and saving the honey bees. It is no easy task but taking action is simple. “One of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat due to urban sprawl” (How to Save the Bees: 10 Things you can do). Someone can plant bee friendly flowers where there is a lack of green space in their yard, is a great way to create a bee friendly habitat. If someone does not enjoy flowers or are allergic to them. They can place a spoonful of sugar in their yard or on the porch. This will give hungry bees something to eat until they find nectar rich flowers. Bees also get thirsty. Place a shallow bowl of water on the porch. Put flat marbles or rocks in the bottom of the bowl. Make sure the water just sits on the Save the Beestop of the rocks or marbles, do not overfill. This gives the bees something to stand on when they are getting a drink. Avoid using harmful fertilizers or pesticides that can kill or deter them from the flowers. Using a simple solution of blue Dawn dish detergent and water is a great pesticide and does not hurt the flowers. Do not use any chemicals that contain neonicotinoid, as they are very harmful to bees.

Bees are very fragile and just as important to the ecosystem and agricultural production. Everyone should try to do their part in saving the bees no matter how big or small it may be. If planting a garden or flowers is not someone’s forte, buy locally made honey or beeswax products. Not only does local honey taste better than that from the store. It may have also come from the flowers that were planted in their backyard. To often people think that small things do not matter. The small things make a huge impact on the survival of anything, especially honey bees. People can also become a bee ambassador. Just like maintaining a colony of bees, real changes takes strength in numbers. Educate friends, family and community on how they can help save the bees. There are so many ways someone can help save the bees. The bees will be so grateful, as well as everyone that loves to eat fruits and vegetables or drink coffee. “Current bee ambassadors engage others by asking for bee-benefiting donations in lieu of birthday gifts, and selling muffins door-to-door. Get creative with ways to raise funds and get the buzz out on saving bees” (How to Save the Bees:10 things you can do)!

References:

  1. https://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/how-to-save-the-bees/https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-life-of-bees/role-of-the-drone-beeThe Complex Life of the Honey Bee: Environmental, Biological and Chemical Challenges to Colony Health. Feken, Max; Gerber, Cory; Given, Krispen; Johnson, Reed; Krupke, Christian; Obermeyer, John; Smith, Kevin Leigh; Steeger, Thomas; Whitford, Fred.
  2. https://ppp.purdue.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/PPP-116.pdf, June 2017.https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder, April 26,2018 Bee Benefits to Agriculture.
  3. Hackett, Kevin J. Agricultural Research. March 2005, Vol. 52 issues 3, p2-2. 1p. Article. The Impact of Pesticides on Honey Bees and Hence on Humans. Riscu (Jivan), Antonina; Bura, Marian. Scientific Papers: Animal Science & Biotechnologies/Lucrari Stiintifice; Zootehnie si Biotechnologii. 2013, Vol. 46 Issue 2, p272-277. 6p. Article.
  4. Lovett, Ryan. Save the Honey Bees. Northern Illinois University. Research Essay.

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