Beyond Your Backyard: Save Our Bees! 🐝
Kimberly J. Epp
Spring has sprung, and so has a lot of new life. It won't take long before dandelions will be showing up on your lawn (if they haven't already), but before you get rid of them consider that this flower is the first flower available to bees. Bees have been hibernating over the winter, and they will "bee" very hungry!
If you think bees are a pest, did you know that without them we could only survive on earth for four years? Of the 6 million insects in the world, bees are the only ones that help produce food that humans and many species of animals can eat. Bees help grow over 100 crops, from apples to zucchinis. Seventy to eighty percent of all plants and trees require pollination by insects to reproduce.
In North America, the Honey Bee population has declined by approximately 40 percent. Wild Pollen Bee populations have also declined, with several species already having gone extinct. A Pollen Bee can pollinate 15 times faster than a Honey Bee. They are even smarter than Honey Bees. All bees have their own form of language and communication as well.
Pesticides in agriculture, neonicotinoid insecticides, and toxic GMO farms are some of the biggest threats to our bee populations. Other threats include varroa mites (which is why most honey bee populations are on antibiotics), various fungi and the ever-increasing loss of habitat. Over 37 million bees died from GMO corn crops planted in Canada last year. When will we get the message?
Cheerios sells cereal with seeds of "wildflowers" within. I urge you however to NOT plant such seeds, as many of these seeds have been found to be harmful invasive weeds and not wildflowers, some derived from GMO crops covered with the pesticide roundup, none of which are helpful to bees. If you want to help bees, plant native flowers.
The Great Canadian Bumblebee Count takes place each August by Friends of Our Earth. It's a way to learn about some of the species of bees we have here in Canada and thereby helping science keep track of bee population numbers. If you are looking for a family activity, this could be it. Bumblebees are not as aggressive as Honey Bees are. They really are the "bees knees"!
Epp is an environmental educator and writer, and is also the President of the Moose Jaw Nature Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.