Life without a juicy peach to sink your teeth into on a hot summer day would be a sad life indeed, but what does drooling peach juice have to do with bees? Fewer bees mean fewer peaches.
“Colony collapse disorder” or the global disappearance of bees, has been well publicized given honey bees are the primary pollinators of numerous crops, including fruits, nuts and vegetables. While global food production has been affected by the decline of bee colonies, there may be reasons for optimism.
Since 2006 when U.S and European beekeepers began reporting the mass exodus of worker bees – abandoning hives and their queens – the prognosis was fewer and fewer colonies surviving. But in April 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a 27% increase in honeybee populations¹.
And with clear evidence that insecticides contribute to colony collapse – specifically neonicotinoids² – the agrochemical industry is finally taking some responsibility by launching new products intended to be less harmful to bees. According to Bee Culture, a magazine of American beekeeping, these products may not be as harmless as the chemical producers think. From World Harmony’s perspective, these product launches are an admission of culpability by the agrochemical industry which is more than we’ve seen from the industry for decades.
Another positive perspective can be seen by the rapidly expanding field of honeybee virology. Viral infections within bee colonies, in tandem with mite infestations (which are currently in decline), have contributed to colony collapse. This advancing field of science is utilizing new imaging and molecular level techniques to expand bee research.
One U.S. company is taking a creative approach in helping to revive bee colonies. Cascadian Farms, makers and distributors of organic food products, has developed two avenues of support for bees. One is based on customer’s product purchases, such that Cascadian Farms will donate to the University of Minnesota Bee Lab as well as the Xerces Society, an organization, focused on bee habitats. The second avenue and certainly the more creative, is partnering with organic farmers in flower bombing.
Flower bombing, or mass aerial seeding, is an attempt to increase food habitat for bees, the loss of which is yet another reason for colony collapse. Cascadian Farms and their partners created small seed “bombs” or balls consisting of wildflower seeds surrounded by a protective clay compost, which are aerially dropped on large barren fields. The company’s Bee Friendlier program and promotional video (see below) seems to have inspired bee lovers to create their own flower bombs for community gardens and vacant properties in helping bring back bee populations.
Renowned Belgian poet and author Maurice Maeterlinck wrote in his popular 1901 book, The Life of Bees, that, “no living creature, not even man, has achieved in the center of his sphere, what the bee has achieved.” Certainly the societal structure and architectural splendor of a bee colony is the “bee’s knees” and worth our admiration. But given all that bees provide for the survival of OUR species, isn’t it incumbent we provide for the survival of THEIR species?
1: Williams, Janice. “Saving the Bees: Honeybee Populations On The Rise After Colony Collapse Disorder.” Newsweek magazine (August 2017) (http://www.newsweek.com/bees-population-colony-endangered-species-645694)
2: Mitchell, E. A. D., B. Mulhauser, M. Mulot, A. Mutabazi, G. Glauser, A. Aebi. “A Worldwide Survey of Neonicotinoids in Honey.” Science magazine (2017) Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 109-111 (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6359/109