Widespread Bee Decline - What You Can Do to Help
Since the 1990s, bee population has been slowly declining on a global scale. In more recent years, concern is heightening as bee populations take a turn for the worst.
Bees pollinate one third of all food, essentially one out of every three bites of food you take was made possible by bees. 70% of the top 100 crops grown for human consumption are pollinated by bees.
Bees are dying because of two main factors, pesticides and habitat loss. In addition to these, other effects like drought, nutrition deficit, air pollution and global warming all play a part in bee loss. There was been a 60% reduction in honey bees in the United States from 1947 to 2008. Russia recently reported a 20% loss in honey production and shortages of essential crops pollinated by bees like sunflowers and buckwheat.
In 2018, the European Union almost completely banned neonicotinoids, a chemical found in pesticides and other crop treatments because of the danger they pose to bees. 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 as of May 2019, but the companies who manufacture them may continue to sell their stock until 2020. This leaves 47 neonicotinoids available on the market in the United States, but they are all up for re-registration in 2022, leaving time for the EPA to take full and complete action. Join environmentalists in the push to completely ban neonicotinoids in the United States by 2022.
Now is the time to take action and stand up for bees around the world.
How You Can Help:
- Plant native flowers and plants in your garden beds and yard
Native plants are easy for native bees to pollinate, so help them out! Having a variety of plants in your yard can also help bee nutrition, as good nutrition is essential to all living life. If you don’t have a yard, a simple flower pot outside will help too! You don’t need a huge garden to assist your local bee friends.
- Support your local, organic farmers
Pesticides harm bees and can lead to bee hive collapse. Shop at your local farmer’s market if you have one near you. Supporting your local organic farmers encourages less pesticide use and 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 production of local and native produce. If you don’t have access to purchasing local products, purchasing organic helps too. Organic produce is grown without harmful bee pesticides, and organic products contribute to soil and ecosystem health too.
- Go pesticide free and organic at home
Even if you don’t grow your own vegetables, you can still make sure that all of your houseplants and outdoor plants are grown pesticide free and organic. When at the nursery or plant shop, look for signs saying plants were grown organically from seed. If you have your own home garden, don’t use pesticides or other harmful chemicals on the plants you grow. Nobody wants to eat pesticides, not even bees!
- Create a bee water basin for drinking and resting
If you have an old container lying around, create a bee water basin! Add rocks and sticks for bees to land on and fill the rest of the container with water. Do not add sugar, as bees get more nutrition from flower nectar than sugar. Place the container near your garden and watch as the bees get a much needed drink during their busy days!
- Get involved and educated
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.
Other bee conservation organizations to check out:
- Planet Bee– Planet Bee works to educate children and adults about the importance of bees.
- Avaaz– Avaaz is a US based environmental non-profit who has campaigned for a worldwide ban of neonicotinoids among other environmental actions
- World Bee Project– The World Bee Project actively monitors global honey bee action to discover ways in which we can aid in their survival. They also work with schools and educators.
How are you working to #SavetheBees? Share your thoughts below!
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