In the past two years, nearly one third of the nations honeybees have died off. Formally known as colony collapse disorder, the vanishing of America’s bees is puzzling farmers and scientists from coast to coast. Many believe the plight is due to pesticides, herbicides, land development, dwindling food supply and a new virus that seems to evade the immune system of honeybees.
Bees don’t just make honey; they play a vital role in the pollination of our fruits and vegetables. According to the US Department of Agriculture, approx. one third of our diet comes from insect pollinated plants and honeybees are responsible for more than 80% of that pollination!
So here’s what you can do to help:
- Replace some of your lawn (or put containers on your balcony) with flower beds.
- Keep your garden as organic as possible! Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Click here for eco-friendly alternatives.
- Plant native species, which bees love – for example: mint, daisies, strawberries, raspberries, lavender, salvia, asters, sunflowers and verbena.
- Choose plants that flower at different stages in the growing season to provide a constant supply of food for the bees.
- Create homes for the bees – Many of the wild bees you may encounter in your backyard make their homes in the soil or holes in trees. You can encourage bee-residents by providing nesting blocks.
- Eat Haagen Dazs Vanilla Honey Bee Ice Cream to help raise money and awareness about bees (they also sell really cute T-shirts!)
Interesting facts about honey bees:
- When a honey bee returns to the hive, it gives out samples of the flower’s nectar to its hive mates. Then it performs a dance that identifies the distance, direction, quality, and quantity of the food supply. The richer the food source, the longer and more vigorous the dance.
- An average worker bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- One honey bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year.
- To produce 1 pound of honey, honey bees must visit 2 million flowers and fly 55,000 miles.
- An average hive can hold about 50,000 bees; a combination of drones (male bees) and worker bees (non-queen female bees).
- A queen bee can live for 2-5 years, a worker bee 1-4 months and a drone 40-50 days