World Bee Day was created as a reminder that bees and other pollinators are constantly under threat from humans. Here are some ways we can be more mindful of bees.
Do you know we rely on Honey Bees for a third of our food supply? Among that are some of the foods we love most: vegetables, fruit, nuts, juice, smoothies and… ice-cream! (One ice-cream manufacturer is so concerned that they have launched a campaign).
Whenever we see a bee we should fall on our knees in deep gratitude and flow oceans of love. Most of us are unaware that our food supply depends on bees, and so we fail to acknowledge their importance in our lives, and we even mistreat them.
Bee numbers are falling rapidly. Bee keepers globally are aware of a problem called ‘colony collapse’ where whole colonies of bees die, or mysteriously ‘disappear’. The Almond crops in California depend on bees for pollination. No bees = no almonds. Bee-keepers in the USA are already importing bees in vast numbers from Australia to pollinate essential food crops. Australia is the only remaining continent that has so far escaped the blight. America, Africa, Asia and Europe are seeing drastically-falling bee numbers.
So where are the bees going? There are some virulent viruses that attack bees. Varroa destructor virus -1 (VDV1) is an old suspect and even though it has been around for some time it is usually fatal to a bee colony. More recently scientists discovered Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), which most bees are susceptible to, although Australian bees seem to have developed immunity. This may explain why Australian bees are not falling down with colony collapse, and it gives cause for hope to develop bee immunity in other continents.
As with humans, the ability to develop immunity depends upon good health. Stress weakens immunity and makes us more prone to illness. Believe it or not, commercial bees are often ‘stressed’ which compromises their immunity to disease. You might wonder: what could ‘stress’ a bee? Well, we do: humans.
A bees day is busy, and they do different jobs in a hive. Depending upon your job, as a bee, you might spend your day creating wax to build and repair the hive, or producing honey to feed the larvae and other bees, or nursing and feeding the larvae, or going out to collect pollen, which is needed for food and making honey, and bring it back to the hive.
As bees go about their business of gathering pollen from blossoms, they also collect whatever chemicals have been used on that crop. One study found 25 different pesticides in a single bee. This is fatal chemical overload. Their bodies are working overtime to remove chemical toxins, so they have no resources left to build their immune systems and resist viral infections.
As if to add insult to injury, we then transport our weakened bees in trucks, over thousands of miles, where we expect them to pollinate extensive agricultural crops. (Exposing them to more chemical pollution).
Overworked, in unnatural conditions, and poisoned by pesticides, our little bees have no chance when they come into contact with these deadly viruses.
We need to take much better care of our bees. Make sure they are healthy, and develop sustainable ways to work them, keep them healthy, and support them in developing resistance to disease. If not, who knows what we will lose. We may not even realize until it’s too late.
How you can help:
The good news is that in some areas, bees are surviving better in towns where they are safe from crop spraying. This means we can make a huge difference in our own back yards.
- Respect the role of bees and let them live.
- Educate others of bees’ importance and vulnerable situation.
- Teach your children how special bees are when it comes to our food.
- Share your awareness and gratitude for bees.
- Let’s agree, bees need our help.
- Plant more flowering plants, plan and refrain from using chemicals in your own back yard. There are many alternatives to spraying. (For example: ladybug larvae will eat greenfly and other aphids, and you can purchase them from specialist suppliers)
- Do a little research about alternatives to spraying.
- Consider buying or making a bee house to support bees.
- If you enjoy unusual hobbies you may consider bee-keeping. In London, UK for example ordinary people are setting up bee-hives in their back yards and on rooftops! In towns and cities there are fewer chemicals, and more people who can make a difference. It could be town and city-dwellers who save our bees.
- Get involved! Support organic farmers.
- Buy organic produce as much as possible to send a clear message that you don’t want crops that have been sprayed.
- Support groups, companies and charities that are helping bees.
- Write, campaign, petition your political representatives to raise awareness of this issue.
Ruth Hadikin supports people in reducing stress in their lives.
She is author of “Effective Coaching in Healthcare” and co-author with Muriel O’Driscoll of “The Bullying Culture”. She writes regularly for Life Coach Magazine.