Where would we BEE without these amazing insects? Three-quarters of the world's plant species rely on pollinators for reproduction. What happens when those pollinators become extinct? For the first time in the United States, seven species of bees native to Hawaii have been placed on the endangered species list. The next type of bee that could be listed as endangered, the “rusty patched” bumble bee, is native to North Carolina and 11 other states. It’s estimated the population of ‘rusty patched’ bumble bees has dropped over 90-percent in the past 20 years. U.S. honey bees and thousands of other native bee species have been declining at an alarming rate in recent years. In 2006, North American beekeepers noticed a phenomenon called “Colony Collapse Disorder” where adult bees abruptly vanish from the colony and abandon the queen and her brood. Today it is believed that the bee decline is caused by a combination of factors that include loss of habitat essential for food and shelter, inappropriate pesticide use, diseases, and parasites. Here in Asheville, we have a great organization called Bee City USA working to make the world safer for pollinators, one city and one college campus at a time. Check out the important work they're doing at beecityusa.org.
We love that more people are learning beekeeping and keeping bees in their backyards, but you don't have to be a beekeeper to help out.
- Make your garden or backyard hospitable to bees.
- Plant a wide variety of flowers that bees use for pollen.
- Leave weeds and dead plant material in the fall.
- Leave a shallow basin of water filled mostly with stones so the bees have a place to land. Bees get thirsty too!
- Stop using pesticides!
- Buy local, raw honey.