What’s harmful to bees is harmful to me

You may be thinking “Why should I even bother helping the bees?” Well, bees actually play a huge role in our natural environment through their pollination. We often take for granted the important job bees have. You may not realise it, but bees are the reason the fruit, vegetables, nuts and plants you know and love exist. Without bees, you wouldn’t have the pleasure of enjoying all of these.

In the video, distinguished professor and entomologist Marla Spivak talks about the main multiple and interacting factors that are detrimental to the global bee decline. These are:

  • Flowerless Landscape
  • Monocultures
  • Pesticides
  • Parasites

FLOWERLESS LANDSCAPE:

Bees have been in decline since after WWII when farming practices were changed. Farmers stopped planting cover crops, including plants such as clover and alfalfa, which are highly nutritious food sources for bees. Weeds, whose flowers are another important food source for bees, were also eliminated through the use of herbicides. These practices resulted in a loss in the diversity of flowers bees feed from.

MONOCULTURES:

After WWII, farmers have also been systematically limiting the plants bees need for survival by planting larger crop monocultures. These farms became a food desert as they only grew one or two types of plants, such as wheat and soybeans. Monocultures that extend to crops bees like, such as almonds, which are a good source of protein for bees, have also had a great affect on bees. Bees have to be shipped in and shipped out in order to pollinate the almond flowers. We are planting more and more crops than the amount of bees there are, and this isn’t sustainable.

PESTICIDES: 

Pesticides are used on a large scale to combat the crop pests that are attracted to crop monocultures. Pesticides are harmful to bees as their residue is found on the pollen and nectar the feed from. Every batch of pollen has at least six detectable pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. One of the worst is the neonicotinoid insecticide. When it is used in high dosages, such as through ground application, it travels throughout the whole plant and gets into both the pollen and nectar. If a bee feeds of a plant with a high concentration of this neurotoxin, it will die. In most agricultural settings, only a smaller concentration is used. If consumed, either nothing happens or the bee may become disorientated and not know how to get back home.

PARASITES:

The Varroa destructor mite is one the worst parasites that can harm bees. They are a blood sucking parasite that attaches itself to the back of a bee, compromising its immune system and circulating viruses.

When a bee is affected by the lack of a flowerless landscape and crop monocultures, we are also affected as it impacts our agricultural and natural ecosystems by reducing the amount of foods available to us and limiting the diversity of plants that grow around us. When a bee is affected by pesticides, we are also affected because, as well as reducing the population of bees, we are also consuming plants full of pesticide. When a bee is affected by a parasite, we are affected because it reduces the number of bees we need to pollinate our crops. When a bee is harmed, we are also harmed.  

These factors show why it is important that as a global community we start to spread awareness and take action towards the issue of global bee decline. There is hope for the bees, and in two simple ways you can help them. We need to start planting bee friendly flowers to increase plant diversity and avoid pesticide contamination of these plants. These individual efforts may seem small, but they will contribute to a larger grand solution that will help fight the global bee decline.

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What’s the buzz about bees?

I want everyone to raise their hands up in the air if they have ever heard of the global bee decline. That’s what I thought. Not many of you even knew that the global population of honeybees and wild pollinators was experiencing a decline. But thats ok because as your local fairy-bee godmother and founder of Bee Kind Australia, I will provide you with all the facts about the global bee decline and ways you can help our Australian bees.

You might be wondering why we should even help the bees. “They’re just pests” you mutter under your breath as you are armed with a bug swatter in one hand and bug spray in the other, but bees are actually really important to our agricultural and natural ecosystems and should be revered, rather than feared. Honeybees are necessary to our survival as one third of our food supply depends on their pollination. Without them, we wouldn’t have the diversity in fruit and vegetables that we have today, and without wild pollinators we would experience a great loss in natural plant life. There is no single factor contributing to the global decline in honeybees and wild pollinators, but it can be linked to insecticides, fungicides, parasitic mites, environmental destruction and climate change.

Luckily Australia hasn’t greatly felt the impact of the decline yet. It is still important, however, to get stuck into helping the bees and wild pollinators today so if the time ever comes when they are threatened, we will have the solutions and initiatives already in place that will help their species thrive and grow.

#BeeKindToday and keep on following this page, as well as the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (linked in the sidebar) for facts about the global bee decline and ways you can help our Australian bees and wild pollinators.