help honey bees
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This is something that we can all do something about.

Why are Honeybees dying and What's killing them?

No one knows for certain, but potential factors include:

  • Pesticides. Pesticides are believed to be a key cause damaging bee health  making them more susceptible to disease.  U.S. scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen. Some experts believe bees are heading for extinction so when will food producers, can't call them farmers, start listening and wake up to the fact that without pollination by the bees and other insects they are killing, there won't be any crops left to use pesticides on.  (What about their shareholders dividends and company profits then).
  • loss of habitat,  a result of globalisation, EU farming policy and low prices paid by supermarkets to our farmers for British farm produce. Encouraged by the chemical companies farmers ploughed up traditional wild flower meadows to reseed them with more profitable hybrid rye grasses or arable crops, removing the most important source of nectar and food bees needed to survive.
  • Bloodsucking parasites and infections.  Infection weakens the bees immune system lowering the bees resistance to pesticide poisoning.  
  • Lack of Government interest and research funding. When asked, the British government denied the existence of Colony Collapse Disorder (CDD) in Britain, instead blaming rainy summers that have stopped bees foraging for food. This is Britain we have always had rainy summers.

Why should we be concerned that the Honeybee population is collapsing?

How will the loss of Honeybees effect us?

  • Many of our garden plants,  agricultural and horticultural crops need bees to bring about pollination by transferring pollen from the flowers’ anthers to the stigmas. These include most trees and soft fruits, and many vegetables including runner beans, broad beans, tomatoes, marrows and courgettes. 
  • Plants that are not pollinated will not set fruits or produce seeds! 
  • Bees are a critical part of the food chain because flowering plants depend on insects for pollination and the honeybee does just that. It pollinates most of the fruit and vegetables we eat, the seed and plants used to make cattle feed to produce the meat we eat and the cotton used in the clothes we wear. 
  • A world without honeybees would mean a largely meatless diet of rice and cereals, Great for vegetarians and vegans, NO not that simple, it would also mean, no cotton for textiles, no orchards or wildflowers and decimation of wild birds and animals in the bee food chain.
  • These are just some of the plants and crops pollinated by bees. 

Apples, Mangos, Kiwi Fruit, Plums, Peaches, Nectarines, Guava, Rose Hips, Pomegranates, Pears, Black and Red Currants, strawberries, Onions, Cashews, Apricots, Allspice, Avocados, Passion Fruit, Kidney Beans, Green Beans, Orchid Plants, Apples, Cherries, Celery, Coffee, Walnut, Cotton, Lychee, Flax, Acerola – used in Vitamin C supplements, Macadamia Nuts, Sunflower oil,beans, Lemons, Figs, Fennel, Limes, Quince, Carrots, Persimmons, PalmOil, Loquat, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Coriander, Caraway, Chestnut, Watermelon, Coconut, Tangerines, Brazil Nuts,  Beets, Mustard Seed, Rapeseed, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage), Turnips, Chili peppers, red peppers, bellpeppers, green peppers, Papaya, Safflower, Sesame, Eggplant, Raspberries, Elderberries, Blackberries, Clover, Tamarind, Cocoa, Black Eyed Peas, Vanilla, Cranberries, Tomatoes, Grapes.

What can we do to help Honey bees in Britain?

 

We can, especially if we have gardens, help Honeybees and British Wild bees by:

  • Providing bee friendly and pesticide free habitat. Even if you don't have a garden window boxes and containers planted with bee friendly plants will help. If you can set aside a wildlife friendly garden.
  • Become a beekeeper or allow a beekeeper to place hives in your garden. Details of county beekeepers associations and training courses can be seen on The British Beekeepers website
  • Provide nest sites for solitary bees: Some bees nest in hollow stems, like bamboo canes or herbaceous plant stems even cardboard tubes. They will also use holes up to 1/3in diameter drilled in fence posts or logs in sunny positions. Some solitary bees nest in the ground, digging their tunnels in bare soil or short turf.
  • Provide nest sites for bumblebees: Bumblebee nest boxes can be purchased but they are often ignored by queen bumblebees. They prefer to find their own nest sites down tunnels dug by mice or in grass tussocks.  The tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum, has recently colonised Britain and will often use bird nest boxes.  
  • Grow flowers that bees like: Honeybees are active from late winter to autumn, so grow bee-friendly plants  in your garden. 
  • Avoid using all pesticides, even those based on plant oils and extracts that supposedly pose little danger to bees.
  • Wildflower meadow. A really great way to help bees survive is to provide bee friendly habitat and by converting part of your garden or lawn into a wildflower meadow you will be creating something that is good to look at and roll around in too. My article growing a wildflower lawn explains how.

 

Why should we help Bee colonies survive?

What the experts say.

Bees are worth £26 billion to the global economy, and £200 million in Britain.

Bees contribute to global food security and their extinction would represent a terrible 

biological disaster,' said Bernard Vallat of the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The British government denies the existence of Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CDD) in Britain, blaming rainy summers that have stopped bees foraging for food. 

 We worry about global warming, but unless China, India, Brazil and the USA, get genuinely proactive in doing something about it, whatever we do, including messing up our countryside with wind turbines, covering our roofs with ugly taxpayer subsidised solar panels and other Liberal renewable energy initiatives that only increase our energy bills, we can't do much about it.