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Beyond belief

How we can save the bees

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About 25 percent of bumblebees are at risk of extinction. In 2016 alone, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee as an endangered species and seven species of Hawaiian native bees were added to the list too. In the same year, beekeepers lost around 42 percent of their honey bees, when any more than 18.7 percent is typically catastrophic for the colony. Bees are dying at an alarming rate and most of us aren’t noticing.

One in every three bites of food we eat is thanks to bees. According to biologist Dave Goulson about 75 percent of all crops require animal or insect pollination, typically done by bees. Different species of bees play different roles in our world. Supervised honey bees are important crop pollinators because they can easily be moved around for events like the pollination of almond orchards in California. Bumblebees do something often referred to as “buzz pollination” on fruit and vegetable plants, and without it, these plants would not produce as much harvest. Many native wild bees are just as significant because not only do they provide diversity in our pollination services, but some, like squash bees, have adapted to pollinating specific plants. Bees are also pollinators of crops like alfalfa that feed livestock and pasture animals.

According to Elise Fog of Enlightened Bugs, without bees, humans would face a diet lacking in vital nutrients, food chains depending on smaller animals would fall apart, colorful flowering plants would disappear, and ecosystems would be in critical danger. Carlen Jupe of the California State Beekeepers Association believes that almonds would be one of the first crops to disappear without bees. Almond orchards use two-thirds of the nation’s managed honeybee colonies and without pollination, they would produce less than one-sixth of what they could produce with pollination. Humans need bees, and we need to take several steps towards protecting the ones that are left.

If you’re interested in helping save bees, there are a few simple things that everyone can do. Plant native wildflowers and flowering plants in your yard and community. Trees such as apples and shrubs like blueberries are great food sources for pollinators. Many vegetables and herbs are nutritious for bees too. You can make a “bee-bath” by setting out a small dish of water with pebbles in it so bees can drink without drowning. Bees get thirsty too and some also use the water to cool themselves down in the hot summer. One of the easiest things we can all do is buy local, raw honey from hives that are not treated by chemicals.

Ask your parents to stop mowing a portion of your lawn. All different types of flowers will grow over time, like clover. Let dandelions live, too! They’re one of the first pollen-rich sources to grow in the spring, and one of the last to die in the fall. Their pollen and nectar are accessible to several different bee species. Never use chemicals or pesticides on your lawn or garden, and encourage your local farmers to limit their use of chemicals, such as neonicotinoids. Life without bees is hard to imagine and the Bulldogger staff hopes to bring awareness to the issue. Let’s save the bees!

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