We Need Bees! Our Environment and Economy Needs Bees to Survive
Summer months are known for heightened bug activity and that includes our black and yellow friends: the bees. You may notice swarms migrating, moving in large numbers around your neighborhood, but despite seeing them around town, our bees need help and protection from threats to their survival. With knowledge and some garden planning, you can help protect our precious bees while also protecting the environment and the future of our economy.
Why Do Bees Need Help?
There are many factors that are contributing to changes in bee populations all around the globe. The 3 biggest factors are:
- Environmental Changes Due to Land Development: City expansion and farming reduces the natural environment in which bees thrive. The more we grow as a human population, the more we take away from the bugs and animals that thrive in nature, the worse off we are. Bees are essential for pollination of our fruit, nuts and produce, and the plants that help to clean our air. They help to repopulate our plants, flowers, and agriculture.
- Pesticides: Restrictions are in place upon agriculture companies with regard to pesticides, but the battle is far from over. Closing in on the chemicals that are adversely affecting the bees takes time, and with already strict restrictions, agriculture companies are walking a fine line. A balance between combatting crop-destroying pests and loss of crops will have to be found, considering the impact on bees by the use of pesticides. In addition, the agriculture industry utilizes controlled colonies that are often mismanaged by pollination service companies, making sustainability a concern.
- Climate Change: As the seasons shift and our winters are warmer, summers are wetter, plants are blooming at different times, that may not necessarily coincide with the emergence of bees. Bees may be missing their chance for food and our chance for pollination. Changes in the weather may also force bees to move to new, different areas, leaving pollination of local plants behind.
What Can We Do?
On a grand scale, the biggest help would be ecological farming and reduced destruction of natural landscapes. Limiting chemicals in the air and soil and changing over to an ecological farming system will help us to save the bees while producing healthier food for humans and animals at the same time. Chemically modified food may be more economical, but is it really better in the long run?
Secondly, we must fight to protect what nature is left. Protected soils, natural parks, and ecological reserves are crucial in keeping the bee population alive. The more we develop cities and build homes in areas where indigenous plants once thrived, the more harm we do to our environment and the living things within it.
What can you do on a personal, local scale?
- Plant bee friendly flowers and plants in your garden, and protect bees as they migrate. Plants that bees love include California Poppies, Western Redbud, Aster, Blanket Flower, Grey Lavender, and several Sages.
- On particularly hot days, place a saucer of water outside for bees to quench their thirst.
- Try to avoid bees instead of killing them, keeping in mind that remaining calm and gently moving them away is a good option.
- If a bee falls into your pool, help it to safety! Keep a frisbee near the pool for handy bee removal.
- Educate your children about the importance of bees so that they are valued for generations to come.
Above all, we must remember that living in peace means making and sharing space with all living things, including bees and other insects that we often disregard or feel annoyed by. Our planet needs them, and so do we!