Home and Garden 2017

To bee or not to bee?

By Rachel Robles | Apr 05, 2017
Photo by: Kyle Harmon

To bee or not to bee? That’s the question we’ll be asking ourselves if we don’t do more to address the preservation and protection of bees, those mostly-friendly pollinators that we heavily rely upon.

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave certain species of bees endangered species status, the first bee species in the country to be protected by federal law. Granted, this only applies to seven species of bees found in Hawaii, but receiving endangered status sends a clear message about the government’s priority in protecting these essential pollinators.

For decades, honeybee populations have suffered from Colony Collapse disorder, in which a majority of worker bees disappear, leaving the queen and immature bees behind. The issue got the spotlight when the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture formed a task force after the bee population dropped 23 percent in the winter of 2013.

And then there are Varroa mites, diseases, loss of habitat, pests and pesticides. It's been estimated that since 2007, 10 million beehives have been lost.

In 2015, former President Barack Obama called for the restoration of 7 million acres of bee habitat and proposed setting aside $82.5 million for honeybee research.

Why all this fuss for bees? Because a staggering one-third of everything that human beings eat are pollinated by insects, i.e. bees. Without action, the world will face an incredible food shortage and people will die.

Federal directives aside, local gardening and/or beekeeping clubs and grassroots activists are encouraging the public to take a more active role in helping bees — Plant a bee garden, sponsor a beehive and reduce the use of pesticides.

It’s tough to be a bee in today’s world. Let’s give them a fighting chance. Visit ww.thehoneybeeconservancy.org for gardening tips and ideas.