What’s All the Buzz About the Bees?

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You’ve probably heard a thing or two about the bees declining in population. Well, bees are nasty little buggers that sting people, so yay for that, right? Wrong!
First of all, bees hardly ever sting. Many types of bees can’t even sting at all. For those who can, stinging will usually result in their death, so it’s hardly an appealing way to protect themselves. They can sting, and a sting can be deadly for those who are allergic, but it’s very unlikely to happen if you don’t provoke them.
Furthermore, bees are useful to us in many ways. Of course there’s honeybees, who  produce… well, do I even need to explain? Then there’s beeswax, another useful bee product. But bees also pollinate flowers. And this is why we need them most. About 1/3 of all our food comes from crops depending on pollination. Most of this is done by bees, and so you see; When the bees go, our food goes.

Now why are the bees dying all of a sudden? The prime suspects are pesticides and fungicides. These make the bees much more vulnerable for viruses if not killing them in the first place. Entire hives die from a combination of invertebrate iridescent virus or IIV6, and the fungus Nosema ceranae. Scientists are working on finding out why this combination is so deadly, but the cause of the virus and fungus getting into the hives is almost definitely the pesticides and fungicides being used by farmers all over the world.
An other reason the bees are having a hard time, is the environment itself. There are less insect pollinated crops to be found in the cities, and our houses don’t leave many places for the bees to nest. And so they have a hard time finding food and shelter.

What can you do to help?
– Buy organic fruits and vegetables when you can (even replacing one piece of fruit or a vegetable for and organic version a week will make a difference.) By doing so, you support organic farmers, so they can expand and maybe inspire other farmers to go organic as well. Since no chemicals are used on organic crops, these are safe for the bees to pollinate and get their food from. Don’t forget, those pesticides may not instantly kill you, but they’re not good for you either, so trying to eat more organic food is always a good idea.
-Plant some flowers in your garden or on your balcony. The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, has a great list of flowers to plant, that will attract and provide a great source of food for bees, here.
-Build or buy a bee hotel. Being an environmentalist is becoming more and more popular, so bee hotels can be bought at most garden centres nowadays. If you’re not buying anything new, like me, or just like to craft,  then you can easily build one. You can stack some hollow bamboo, or tie it together and hang it in your garden. Or you can drill holes into blocks of wood and stack those. Be creative, make it a prominent part of your garden. Make it look like a little house or birdhouse, or something completely different, have fun with it.
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Don’t worry about having bees in your garden. The types of bees that use hotels will not sting you!

Are you ready to start helping out those bees? I know I am. In fact, I think I’ll start building a bee hotel right this weekend! I’ll be(e) sure to share pictures when I’m finished. Do you have any questions or comments? Leave them in the comment box.

Gree(n)things,

Cyndi

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