What's killing our bees?
It has been well documented that our honey bee populations have been decreasing in staggering numbers over the years. So what exactly is killing our bees?
Well, it appears that there isn’t one single factor that is killing the bees, it is a variety of factors that affect the bees’ mobility and senses. This is called sub-lethal stressors.
This has been the focus of many studies over the years, with scientists suggesting diseased parasites, poor nutrition and pesticides are all contributing factors. Recent findings have confirmed that pollen contaminated with pesticides & fungicides to be effecting our bee populations significantly.
Bees can also be victims of something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This is when most of the worker bees in a specific colony disappear. They do however leave behind enough food and bees (nurse bees) to care for some infant bees and of course, the all so important queen bee.
So what causes this phenomenon? Parasites are a natural threat to bees, and as mentioned, has been a suspect cause for CCD. However, studies found that the bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were more susceptible to a specific parasite called ‘Nosema Ceranae’. Although the exact cause of CCD has still not been identified.
How can I help the bees?
Start using natural pest deterrents!
Natural alternatives to toxic sprays include garlic, onion, chilli & pepper. You find lots of amazing recipes for these on the internet. You can also utilise companion planting to attract the good insects who will feast on your gardens pests.
Create a bee paradise
Flowers like lavender, daisies & sunflowers all attract many bee varieties. Here in Australia we also have many natives which will bring bees to your garden including the bottlebrush, gum trees, grevilleas, melaleuca & native rosemary. Plant them together to make it easy to work for the bees & try to have plants that flower at different times of the year.
Ways to protect the bees in your garden include shelter for rest and plants for protection from the elements. Even drinking water in bowls with rocks to prevent them from falling into the water will add to your little bee oasis.
Slow the garden maintenance
Allowing your vegetable & herb plants to flower will provide a great range of seasonal blooms for your local bees. Slowing down on your weeding can also be beneficial. Also, what might be seen as a pest to you could be a fantastic food source for bees. Common weeds like dandelions & clover are notoriously favoured by our buzzing friends.
Support local beekeepers
Many of the big commercial jars of honey available in supermarkets contain other cheaper sweeteners. One taste of real honey, you won’t go back. If you eat raw, local honey you gain special benefits too. You see because local honey contains local pollen it can strengthen the immune system and reduce the symptoms associated with pollen allergies.
The prospect of losing our bees is daunting, with no one definitive answer. But together we can educate & inspire to take steps in the right direction, to save one of the most important animals on the planet. Bee a part of the solution.