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Archive for the 'Bee decline' Category

North American Bees: Check out this beautiful calendar!

Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
hover fly brian

Birders have it so easy with  many bird identification books to choose from!

Just try to identify a few of the 1,600 species of Native Bees who live in California in your backyard pollinating your flowers, vegetables and fruit trees! Where is the Native Bee identification book for that?

Since we don’t have one of those books yet, a good start for Native Bee identification would come from the 2011 North American Bee Calendar as it features 12 more commonly seen North American Native Bees. These Calendars are available at…  or … You not only get to learn more about those native bees, but you also get to support pollinator conservation efforts of these organizations when you buy a calendar!

Since bees are responsible for every third bite of food, it is very important we begin to help our pollinators in any way we can. Thanks.
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek

I can’t argue with that! Those native bee calendars are also pretty neat! I’m going to get one myself. /Gary

Posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010
Under: Bee decline, bees | 1 Comment »

Honeybees & pesticides: We’re poisoning our own food supply

Photo by Flickr user Todd Huffman used under a Creative Commons License
honeybees2 Todd Huffman

Check out the Associated Press story below. We humans just don’t get it. We’re flooding the local environment with pesticides, killing the honeybees and poisoning our own food supplies. What a disaster. /Gary

By Garance Burke & Seth Borenstein (Associated Press Writers)

Associated Press — The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees’ pollen and hives laden with pesticides.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Under: Bee decline, beekeeper, bees | 1 Comment »

Bees are dying … don’t spray the flowers!

I found this in my morning mail:

I wrote the letter below to send to the editor, but decided to pass it to you instead. I am not asking you to reprint it, just use whatever parts you may find suitable. There is just no need for people to be spraying so much pesticides in the first place, and don’t they know how much humans need bees? (Elwira Stankiewicz)

Bees have been lately in the news, with their mysterious and frightening disappearances. Our bee disappearance in the Estates neighborhood of Concord, California, was not quite so mysterious, but it certainly was frightening and heartbreaking.

Right after Easter our bees started suddenly dying. They crawled in masses away from their home, twitching and jerking (it is a dying bee’s last gift to her sisters to take herself away). Thousands died inside, littering the top and bottom of the hive. Many just never made it home. In a few days our beautiful happy hive has gone silent and still. Dreaded Colony Collapse Disorder?

Nope. According to a professional beekeeper I consulted, it was a simple case of one of our neighbors, somewhere within a half mile most likely, going too happy with a can of pesticide.

Perhaps the people who did it saw bugs around their backyard and sprayed everything. Perhaps they even believed bees attack people, while pesticides are harmless to children. But whether the cause was indifference or ignorance, the bees that only pollinate our gardens died.

It seems like a microcosm of what’s happening on a larger scale. In coming years, while someone enjoys a buzz-free yard, the rest of the neighborhood will ponder the low yields in backyard gardens. And while our chemical agricultural practices persist, wild bees disappear and commercial beekeepers go bankrupt, U.S. consumers will ponder skyrocketing prices of produce dependent on bees for pollination, and not just almonds.

There are products to repel or destroy pests in garden and home that are safe to humans and bees. Diatomaceous earth is by far my favorite, a true gardener’s best friend. There are wasp repellent sprays that do not harm picnickers (or nearby bees). And even commercial pest control companies have options for keeping “bugs” away without wiping out all the beneficial insects at the same time, and they usually know it is against the law to apply pesticides while bees are foraging.

But my bees are out of there. We moved what bees remained to a new, hopefully cleaner place in hope the queen was not fed the poison, and lives and enough of them survive to nurse the next generation.

So, there is hope for them. But is there a hope for humanity when many of us don’t realize “environment” is not some leftist/commie/liberal slogan, but the food on our table, our own health, and our survival as a species?

Sad bee friend in Concord, CA (Elwira Stankiewicz)

“About a third of the American diet can be traced back to bees,” says May Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois. Honeybees pollinate the flowers of an alphabet of crops: almonds, apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, celery, cherries, cranberries … the list goes on and on and on. Think about it. No pollination … no crops.

Want to hear something shocking? More pesticides are sprayed, dusted, dumped and poured in suburban and urban backyards than on all the farms in the country.

Just walk into any hardware or garden supply store … or down certain aisles in your local supermarket … and take a BIG sniff. Ah … the bittersweet smell of poisons … just waiting for you to take them home and use them!

Hungry? Don’t spray pesticides in your yard! /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008
Under: Bee decline, beekeeper, bees, Pesticide | 3 Comments »

Bees are in trouble, and that means so are we.

Honey bees have a problem.

It began almost 10 years ago when honey bee hives started getting infested by a species of parasitic Asian bee-killing varroa mite. Since then, these mites have killed off honey bees by the millions, or maybe even billions. Other bee species (carpenter bees, bumble bees) are more resistant to the mites and that’s why we’ve been seeing increased numbers of these guys in our yards as they fill in the spaces left by the disappearing honey bees.

Unfortunately, there still aren’t enough of these other bee species to take the place of the honey bees.

To make matters worse, there is a new honey bee problem, called “Colony Collapse Disorder” for want of a better name, because no one really understands what this mysterious ailment is. All we know at this point is that honey bees around the country are starting to abandon their hives and disappear.

And as if the poor honey bees don’t have enough problems, they are also getting hammered by heavy (and often careless!) pesticide use and unusually bad weather all across the country.

Honey bees are vital to the things we grow. Without the assistance of these hard-working little insects, farmers will have a tough time getting their crops pollinated … and grown.

Simply put, we need these bees to survive.

Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet and more than 50 different agricultural crops valued at more than $20 billion a year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Eternal optimist that I am, I think scientists will eventually figure this all out and
come riding to the rescue to save the bees.

In the meantime, we home gardeners can assist their efforts right in our own back yards by doing what we can to protect remaining populations of our local honey bees, plus any other bee species we see.

For starters, don’t use pesticides. Use alternative pest control methods. Most chemical insecticides sold for home and garden use are toxic to honeybees, even in minute amounts. (I know, I’ll say it for you, “why are these pesticides allowed to be sold?”)

And be nice to every bee you see.

Posted on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007
Under: Bee decline | No Comments »

No pollinators, no crops

According to a story on Wednesday by AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, the National Academy of Sciences has just released a report on the "Status of Pollinators in North America." The report takes a look at the decline of pollinators (honey bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, etc.), and the causes and consequences of this decrease.

Parasites and loss of habitat seem to be the main problems facing insect, bird and mammal pollinators.

The outlook, needless to say, is not good. According to the report, 75 percent of the world’s flowering plants (flowers, vegetables, fruit, etc.) rely on pollinators to reproduce.

In other words, no pollinators means no pretty flowers to look at and no food to eat.

There definitely needs to be more research on this problem to find out what can be done about it. The report also makes some suggestions and recommendations.

You can browse through a summary of the report on the Xerces Society Web site (click on the line below). The Xerces Society is about invertebrates essential to biological diversity.

Posted on Friday, October 20th, 2006
Under: Bee decline, Pollinators | No Comments »