A Bee Hive Encounter
Last week, I did something very courageous. I cautiously stood within a short distance of several thousand honey bees, capturing their hard-working efforts through my camera lens! The backstory to all of this is my dad recently became a beekeeper (my parents own a couple hundred acres of land in Texas). After hearing of the threats bees face due to our agricultural practices in America, my dad decided to take action. It was so inspiring for me to watch my dad invest his time and money to make sure bees remain a part of our world – so much so that I decided to write about it here. So this post is for the bees, for those who advocate for bees, and for those who are able to create an environment in which bees can thrive. Thank you ALL for caring and doing your part!
The Facts About Honey Bees
Bees are the earth’s pollinators. In fact, they are responsible for eighty percent of all pollination worldwide, according to Greenpeace. Ninety percent of the crops we as humans consume on a daily basis rely on pollination, which means almost every meal we eat requires the help of bees. If they are threatened, so are we. Unfortunately, the bee population has been on the decline for decades. In 2016 alone, America lost forty-four percent of bee colonies. So what’s the cause behind these drastic losses over the years? Mainly our agricultural policies and practices. Large commercial beekeeping organizations are typically found in agricultural settings, which means bees are closely exposed to harmful pesticides and mono crop situations that lack adequate nutrition (source). These factors, in addition to the expansion of land used for crops and urban development, have led to the serious reduction in our bee colonies. The good news is bees require the bare necessities to live: food and shelter. So, as long as we can ensure bees have adequate nutrition and a safe place to work, they will thrive.
Saving Honey Bees – What You Can Do
Here are a few actionable steps you can take right now to help save bees:
- Sign a petition – this website includes several petitions specifically created to help bees.
- Plant a bee garden – here is a list of bee loving flowers, fruits and vegetables you can plant year-round in your garden.
- Become a beekeeper – this online store includes supplies and equipment needed for beekeeping and here are some helpful questions to ask before becoming a beekeeper.
- Eat mostly plant-based meals – eighty percent of our farm land is used to raise animals and grow crops to feed them. Therefore, cutting back on our meat consumption can drastically reduce the amount of land required for crop production. This means more land for bees and other wildlife creatures.
- Support organic practices – another problem with mass crop production is pesticide use. Organic farming allows pesticide use, but the requirements are much more strict. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides that harm bees by affecting their nervous systems. They are prohibited in organic farming. So, if you buy organic you are also saying no to the use of neonicotinoids.
- Read Bringing it to the Table by Wendell Berry – if you are curious about the origins of our food in America and the problems we face in our agriculture system, this book is a must read.
- Donate to a cause – there are many non-profit organizations involved in helping bees and the environment. If you feel called to donate to any of their causes, that’s awesome!
Just remember: if bees are threatened, so are we. Their livelihood is essential to ours. Where we put our money is where we put our vote.