Updated: Sep 16, 2022 (original 07/24/2019)
Bees are an essential component of our ecosystem, but they are facing numerous dangers. Their decline is frightening, and a planet without these diligent busy insects is a planet we won't want to live on. Trust us on that!
A single bee can pollinate roughly around 5000 flowers in one day. A hive of bees flies over 55,000 miles and visits two million flowers to produce one pound of honey. They pollinate 75% of our flowering plants and about 35% of our food crops. It's simple— without bees, there is no food, and without food, there is no survival. We must do all we can to prevent the extinction of bees.
Why are Bees in Danger of Going Extinct?
Over the past fifty years, bee populations have been shrinking. This worrisome drop has been mostly attributed to disease, habitat loss, parasites, pesticides, and unfavorable weather brought on by climate change. The managed honey bee colonies in the United States dropped by 45.5% between 2020 and April 2021. In 2020, 50 million bees were poisoned in the Croatian region, pushing the parliamentary republic to declare a natural disaster emergency.
Humans are accountable for the two most vicious and interconnected reasons— pesticides and habitat loss. The awful paradox of the situation is that endangering bees is endangering ourselves. As bees disappear, crop output will also disappear, resulting in a global famine. Poverty and hunger will be pervasive and humans will perish from thirst and starvation. A fertility regression would accompany a decline in reproduction frequency. In the end, we wouldn't be able to support ourselves and would be driven to extinction. The world and its species must be in good health; otherwise, we will continue to speed up our destruction. Unless we take concrete action to save the bees, our future is in jeopardy.
Let's look at five effective ways we can avert the extinction of bees:
- Embrace Organic: Bees feed on flowers of neighboring plants and crops. We mustn't cover crops and flowers with chemicals that could poison them. Bees exposed to plants treated with neonicotinoids have been known to have impaired memory and movement. The United States currently allows 59 pesticides that contain neonicotinoids. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned 12 of these pesticides. In an organic farming system, crops are grown and nurtured without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. As a result, they are fresh, cleaner, and have higher levels of nutrients. Organic produce also contributes to soil and ecosystem health. If you don't grow your vegetables, shop at the local farmer's market if you have one near you. Supporting your local organic farmers encourages less pesticide use and a larger diversity of native plant species for healthier, happier bees. If you don't have a farmer's market near you, look for "local" and organic signs at your grocery store. Even purchasing local produce from your usual grocery store encourages the production of local and native produce.
- Grow Pollinator-Friendly Plants: If you have your home garden, don't use pesticides or other harmful chemicals on the plants you grow. If you're shopping at the nursery or plant shop, look for signs saying plants were grown organically from seed. Good nutrition is essential to all living lives, and having a variety of plants in your yard can help bee nutrition. These furry insects feed mainly on nectar and pollen-rich flowers for energy, proteins, and lipids. Without such flowering plants, it can impair their diet. You can refer to this list of bee-friendly plants as a guide to filling your garden, yard, or even your balcony with flowering plants rich in pollen and nectar.
- Build Bee Habitats: Building bee habitats help encourage these beneficial pollinators to stay in your community for pollen and nectar. If it's your first time, we recommend learning about beekeeping where you live. You can also join the neighborhood beekeepers group or association and look for a local mentor with relevant experience. It can be something creative like building beehives from scratch or simply making a bee water basin with an old container and placing it near the garden. Add rocks and sticks to the water basin so bees can land on it. Do not add sugar, as bees get more nutrition from flower nectar than sugar. Building nesting habitats for native bees is an interesting and even lucrative pastime. You learn about bee biology, bee ecosystems, and how to better your surroundings. There is also the happiness and fulfillment that comes from contributing to the greater good. And, of course, the delights of sourcing sweet, organic honey for the whole family.
- Educate The Younger Generations: Bees are intriguing— children can become more environmentally conscious and be motivated to spend time outside and away from screens by learning about bees. We must educate them about this crucial aspect of our ecology because there is so much at risk. Build beehives together to give them an engaging learning opportunity. Include them in your inspection if you are a beekeeper. You can also let your children plan and organize pollinator projects by hosting pollinator events for friends and families. Introducing them to as many windows as possible to get a peek into the world of bees will pique their interest and make them aware of what is at stake.
- Support Bee Conservation Projects: Intensive agriculture, habitat destruction, and toxic chemicals are killing the bees. The European Red List for Bees estimates that 9.2% of nearly 2,000 species of wild bees are on the verge of extinction. There are no longer any American bumblebees in Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oregon. People around the world are making efforts to save the bees, and you can too through organizations and programs that are dedicated to protecting the bees— The Bee Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Planet Bee Foundation, Pollinator Partnership, The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fun, among others. You can also petition your local government or even the EPA to take action on saving the bees. Join organizations that are advocating for bee survival like the Honey Bee Conservancy. The Honey Bee Conservancy works to place "bee sanctuaries" around the US as well as educate students. Their "Sponsor a Hive" program works to feed people around the US who live in food deserts, all while educating the communities. Read about bee survival at sos-bees.org, an organization run by Greenpeace.
Bees are extraordinary species that we usually overlook as ordinary. They are environmental telltale signs— their population loss is a symptom of biodiversity loss. Our planet earth would become grim if bees stop existing. We must all collaborate to help bees thrive. We cannot remain indifferent or oblivious to their distress. Hopefully, the 5 tips we've shared above can act as a guiding light for you to save bees and the planet.
Thanks for reading!