Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are in trouble. And for those who thought it was the end of the colony collapses witnessed initially in Europe and America from 2007 — and that now it was business as usual for our little friends – that’s just not the case.
Seventy five percent of agricultural crops benefit from animal, and especially bee, pollination, while 10% of this is entirely dependent on it. Agriculture has changed a lot with modern hybrids and now patented genetically modified crops, but a lot of high value fruits, vegetables, nuts and oil crops still need to be pollinated to produce viable fruits or seeds.
Among the crops fully dependent on bee pollination are (alphabetically): almonds, apples, apricots, avocadoes, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, celery, cherries, citrus fruits, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, legume seed vegetables (beans, peas, lentils, etc.), macadamia nuts, nectarines, olives, peaches, peanuts, pears, plums, squash, strawberries, sugar beets, sunflowers and watermelons.
Many thousands of non-cultivated plants are also dependent on bees for pollination, and it is a travesty that many of the wild (indigenous) bee populations have disappeared, and are having to be replaced by increasingly in-bred ‘managed’ honeybees.
What to do to understand more about bee population collapse
To understand more about the recent decline in bee populations, and especially the role of neonicotinoid insecticides, we urge you to do one or more of the following:
Watch the short video by Dr Rob Verkerk below. With his academic background in sustainable agriculture and entomology, this is a subject very close to his heart.
Signing the Avaaz petition to Save the Bees, calling on Bayer to withdraw it’s neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, the world’s number one selling insecticide. The Bayer shareholder’s meeting that the petition targeted, failed to be swayed by nearly one million signatures this week. But Avaaz has rightly said keep the signatures flowing, let’s hit the million mark and then see what can be done to influence the situation further.
The UK, unlike France, Italy, Slovenia and Germany, has not reduced usage of any neonicotinoids — and has probably the worst problem with bee colony collapse. Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee lovely Petition, open until October 2012, is attempting to put pressure on the British government to bring in restrictions on neonicotinoids. If you’re a UK resident, please sign this petition.
Grow plants attractive to bees.
For those with a back garden, ensure you have a good sequence of flowing plants attractive to bees throughout the growing season.
Become a hobby beekeeper.
You can set up a simple top-bar beehive in your backgarden, either make one yourself or they can be bought as a kit. There are ample resources readily available on the Internet to help you on your way if you decide to set up your own hive.