In the winter, many species of bees are not very active. During this time, it’s easy to forget that their populations are plummeting. They’ll emerge when the weather warms up to more of the hostile environmental conditions they encountered before they went into their deep sleep; that’s bad news for the bees and humans that depend on them to pollinate plants we depend on as a food source. Those favored plants that the bees are drawn to are killing them in record numbers, however.
A recent study indicates that a loss of biodiversity, in the way of a reduction in bees’ favorite pollinating plants, is one of the main reasons behind their rapidly declining populations. Unfortunately, without these hard-working insects, the world’s plants and fragile ecosystem could be left vulnerable unless something is done to increase their numbers.
Whether it’s caused by the loss of their favorite plants, climate change or habitat loss, the number and body size of the bee is changing. Researchers have been especially alert to this dramatic decline over the last few decades. What is even more alarming is that the need the bees have on the human population is comparable to the rate at which the insect is rapidly declining.
The preference to host vegetation was the primary factor in the bee decline according to the study published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In addition, the body of the bee was also a major concern because in order for them to thrive, the larger bees need more pollen and nutrients to survive. However, with the rise in population and reduction in plants, flowers and vegetation, it’s difficult to provide enough nutrients to feed the struggling bee population.
Bee colony collapse disorder is increasingly being observed as hives go dark, too. Many possible causes for the disorder have been identified for the disappearances, and human activities are a contributing factor to the disappearance because the bee’s environment is often affected by pollution, chief among them being pesticides.
The use of pesticides, especially in the case of a group of of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics as they are sometimes called, are at much of the root cause of the insect’s plummeting numbers. Because of this, the population of bees has reduced by as much as 90 percent In the United States and Europe.
In order for the ecosystem to survive and thrive, bees need to populate the planet. The black and yellow varieties alone are solely responsible for pollinating close to 80 percent of the plant and flower life. Their pollination is also critical when it comes to our agriculture such as vegetables and fruits. Without these precious commodities, farmers would be out of business, and our food source would dwindle.
Crops such as coffee, cocoa, fruits, vegetables, spices and flowers are all dependent on the pollination of the bee in order for reproduction to be a success. The problem has become so alarming that the White House has asked environmental regulators for assistance. They’ll begin by assessing the impact that pesticides have on bees and other pollinating creatures.
President Obama has also called for agencies within the government to increase bee populations by strengthening the habitat in which they live. Programs implemented have included increasing pollinating habitats in special conservation areas and increasing the number of plants and flowers along highways.
While the reasons behind the declining bee population are plentiful, you don’t have to take on beekeeping as a way to help restore their numbers. In addition to using organic and natural products when you garden, you can limit your pesticide usage. Spring will be here in a few months, so you can also plant items that bees like.
With that in mind, bees tend to gravitate toward flowers that are yellow, purple and blue. They also love varieties such as clover, alfalfa, lavender, bee balm and buttercups. Flowering trees and shrubs are especially tempting to bees. If you tend a vegetable garden, allow a section of your leafy greens to go to seed after harvest. Seeding vegetation allows the bees to store up on food before the winter months hit.
Unless you’re severely allergic, you can also provide a natural habitat for bees. This includes setting out a few bee blocks. The blocks can be made easily by digging out holes of assorted sizes and surrounding them with mounds of loose dirt. This allows the bees to burrow safely without disruption. If you know of a local beekeeper within your community, you can support their efforts by purchasing their honey. Keeping the beekeepers in business gives you the chance to enjoy the health benefits of honey and help strengthen the population of bees.