In 2015 the bees are still dying in masses. Which at first seems not very important until you realize that one third of all food humans consume would disappear with them. Millions could starve. The foes bees face are truly horrifying – some are a direct consequence of human greed. We need to help our small buzzing friends or we will face extremely unpleasant consequences.
By HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki
It is the natural reproductive urge of honey bees to build up numbers in the Spring in order to swarm and establish new colonies. This activity has other benefits for bees besides the increasing of numbers—it helps bees cleanse their colonies of carpetbagging diseases and pests by initiating a break in the brood rearing cycle. Many pathogens depend on a continuous occupancy of the brood nest and young bees, so when the swarm leaves the hive and takes up to two weeks to find a suitable cavity, draw comb, and the queen commences egg laying, the pathogens drop away.
So for the time being, the ongoing drought is affecting the forage sources of the bees such that fewer have the numbers to swarm successfully, are making less honey, and finding less pollen for raising brood.
By Sarah Knapton via telegraph.co.uk
Beekeepers have joined forces with Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage children to bake with local honey, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs
Winnie-the Pooh might be a ‘bear of very little brain’ but even he has become troubled to learn that his beloved treat of honey is under threat by the continuing decline of Britain’s bees.
New figures from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) showed the colonies declined by 14.5 per cent last winter, 50 per cent more than the previous year, despite efforts to tackle to the problem by banning pesticides.
Now the BBKA has teamed up with Pooh illustrator Mark Burgess, who coloured E H Shepherd’s original black-and-white drawings, to produce a brand new story – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Missing Bees – as well as a guide to saving the honeybees.
In the new story, Pooh and Piglet decide to visit the honeybees after noticing a honey shortage in The Hundred Acre Wood.
Speaking to Piglet, Pooh says: “I have been very careful with it, Piglet, as there hasn’t been much honey lately. But you can only be careful for so long before you run out altogether.”
Beekeepers are also h oping to engage children by encouraging them to bake with local honey, become beekeepers, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs to help the spread of wildflowers.
New illustrations show AA Milne’s characters Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh making a vegetable patch in the Yorkshire Dales, building a bee box in the shadow of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, and planting a flowering tree in the shadow of Warwick Castle.
Planting a bee-friendly tree beneath Warwick Castle
The friends are also pictured dropping bee-balls in Birmingham, painting in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire and visiting a honey show in Glastonbury.
Nicole Pearson, Associate Publisher from Egmont Publishing which publishes the Pooh books said: “Winnie-the-Pooh is famed for his love of honey, so who better to encourage families to get out and about and take part in fun activities that can help support our honey bees.
“We’re very excited to be working with the BBKA to support such a worthwhile cause.”
A survey by the BBKA found that 58 per cent of people wanted to help stop the decline of bees but do not know how to go about it.
“While many people are aware of the plight of the honey bee, there are many that don’t know what they can do to help,” said David Aston, President of the British Beekeepers Association.
“We hope that by supporting our ‘Friends of the Honey Bee’ initiative with the brand new guide inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh, families across the country can get involved, making a practical contribution and supporting bee health research.”
Planting a bee friendly vegetable patch in the Yorkshire Dales
The BBKA annual study surveyed 900 British beekeepers selected at random, to establish the impact that last winter has had on honey bee colonies
Some regions have been more greatly affected by bee decline than others. The west has seen drops of 18 per cent, the North East 15.5 per cent and the East of England 14.7 per cent,
While the exact cause is unknown, scientists have speculated that pesticides, pathogens, mites, poor weather and changing beekeeping practices have all contributed to the decline.
Last month scientists in California suggested that a tiny parasite could be behind the rapid colony collapse while researchers at Keele and Sussex Universities claimed aluminium poisoning could be leaving bees with a kind of animal Alzheimer’s disease.
A survey of school children carried out by the BBKA found that most youngsters are aware of the threat to the environment from the decline of bees but do not know what steps to help. environment. However less than a quarter (22 per cent) of children are aware of any steps they could take in order to help.
The ‘bee-friendly’ guide can be found at www.friendsofthehoneybee.com
Pooh’s guide to saving the bees
- Plant your own window box
- Create your own vegetable patch or tub together
- Plant a flowering tree in your garden
- Make some ‘seed balls’ and throw them into the wild
- Use arts and crafts to educate the younger generation on the importance of bees
- Learn to become a beekeeper yourself by attending a course through the British Beekeepers Association
- Bake together at home using local honey
- Build bee habitats
- Volunteer for your local beekeeper association or visit your local apiary
- Don’t panic if you see a swarm of honey bees, stay away and contact your local swarm collector
SO MOVED: Birds And Bees Among Urban Agriculture Issues Taken Up By City Council
By Harry Saltzgaver via gazettes.com
A second attempt to allow more urban agriculture in Long Beach passed its first test Tuesday night when the City Council approved a request to the city attorney to create an ordinance amending the current law.
In March 2013, a draft was brought to the council to change rules for keeping chickens, goats and bees in residential areas. More work was done before a vote in July 2013, but the changes failed on a 4-3 vote, with two council members absent. The issue resurfaced, and four council members — Lena Gonzalez (First), Suja Lowenthal (Second), Daryl Supernaw (Fourth) and Dee Andrews (Sixth) — brought the idea back to the full council Tuesday.
In their letter to the rest of the council, the sponsors cited strides made to become a more livable city, including promoting healthy food choices, as the reason to reconsider the rules now…
The motion passed unanimously.
- 4 hives allowed
- 10 foot setback
- Register with LA County Department of Agriculture
City staff will provide City Council with the ordinance language and then the issue will be up for a final vote.
By Juliet Eilperin via Washington Post
The humble bee — nuisance, threat, and linchpin of the American food supply — has won over the leader of the free world. And now President Obama is intervening on the bee’s behalf as its habitat dwindles.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration will announce the first National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, a bureaucratic title for a plan to save the bee, other small winged animals and their breeding grounds. The initiative may feel like the kind of niche interest a second-term president devotes his time to, but scientists say his attention to the busy workforce that sustains many American crops is critical. While bee colonies regularly die off during winter because of stressful conditions, their sharp decline has been called a potential ecological disaster by some environmentalists and academic experts; conservative Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) described it in an interview as “an essential thing [that] we need to pay attention to.”
The strategy, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, will seek to manage the way forests burned by wildfire are replanted, the way offices are landscaped and the way roadside habitats where bees feed are preserved.
It is also the culmination of a years-long fascination Obama has had with the bee and its worrisome fate.
“I have to say that it is mighty darn lovely having the White House acknowledge the indigenous, unpaid and invisible workforce that somehow has managed to sustain all terrestrial life without health-care subsidies, or a single COLA, for that past 250?million years,” said Sam Droege, a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist and one of the country’s foremost experts on native bee identification…
[Continue Reading via WashingtonPost.com]
The buzz around bees has been bad lately. As we’ve reported, beekeepers say they lost 42 percent of honeybee colonies last summer.
And it seems that fixing what ails bees is no simple task. Over the past few decades, they’ve been hit by diseases and habitat loss. There’s also increasing evidence that a type of pesticides called neonicotinoids are linked to bees’ decline, too.
This could be bad news for all of us, since bees and other pollinators are critical to our food supply.
Honeybees alone, according to an Obama administration estimate, add $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year by pollinating everything from almonds and apples to blueberries and squash.
And now the administration has put forth a new action plan to reverse the declines in bees.
A key component is a strategy to restore 7 million acres of bee-friendly habitat that have been lost to urbanization, development and farming.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” says Nigel Raine, a professor who studies pollinator conservation at the University of Guelph, in Canada.
The idea is to plant many types of wildflowers — in lots of different areas — so that bees have more places to forage and nest. “It’s making sure they have sufficient flowers to feed on,” says Raine — and places to live.
Many environmentalists say restoring bee habitat is a good place to start, but they’re critical that the Obama administration has not taken a harder line in limiting the use of neonicotinoids.
The Natural Resources Defense Council says more urgent action is needed to safeguard our food supply. “To truly save bees and other pollinators, we must drastically cut down on today’s pervasive use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides,” Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC, said in a press release.
And a similar message is coming from Friends of the Earth. The White House Pollinator Strategy won’t solve the bee crisis, the group says.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced in April that it is not likely to approve new uses of neonicotinoids, but the plan announced by the administration on Tuesday did not call for restrictions on current uses.
Lisa Archer, who leads the food and technology program at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement: “President Obama’s National Pollinator Health Strategy misses the mark by not adequately addressing the pesticides as a key driver of unsustainable losses of bees and other pollinators essential to our food system.”
The European Union has already moved to restrict the use of neonicotinoids. And as we’ve reported, there are proposals in Canada to limit use of the pesticides, too.
But a leading manufacturer of the pesticides says neonic restrictions are not necessary. “Neonicotinoids — when used according to labeled directions — can be used safely with pollinators,” Becky Langer of Bayer Crop Science told us.
She says the administration’s strategy to restore bee-friendly habitat is a good approach, and points out that Bayer is helping to address this issue with its Bee Care Center and efforts to encourage the expansion of habitat.
[View original post via NPR.org]
By Brian Naylor via NPR.org
There is a buzz in the air in Washington, and it’s about honeybees. Concerned about an alarming decline in honeybee colonies, the Obama administration has released a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
NPR’s Dan Charles says the strategy, despite its rather bureaucratic title, is pretty straightforward: “The government will provide money for more bee habitat and more research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency also will re-evaluate a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids … which are commonly used on some of the most widely planted crops in the country.”
As NPR’s Allison Aubrey has reported:
“Scientists have shown that a range of factors — from climate change to viruses to loss of habitat — are contributing to the global decline in bee health.
“And two new studies published in the journal Nature add to the evidence that overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides may also be contributing to the decline of bees.
“Neonics, as they’re known for short, have become among the most widely used insecticides in the world. The pesticide is coated onto the seeds that farmers plant to grow their crops. These pretreated seeds are used extensively in corn, soy and canola crops. In fact, it’s estimated that treated seeds are used in more than 95 percent of the U.S. corn crop.”
The White House strategy aims to reduce honeybee colony losses during the winter to no more than 15 percent within 10 years. It’s also concerned with the monarch butterfly, another species in decline. The government wants to increase the Eastern population of the monarch to 225 million butterflies occupying an area of approximately 15 acres in the insect’s Mexico wintering grounds. And it sets a goal of restoring or enhancing 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years. The strategy is the work of the White House Pollinator Health Task Force, an Obama administration initiative launched last year. President Obama has taken a personal interest in the plight of the honeybees. There is a beehive in the White House garden, the honey from which is an ingredient in the White House beer recipe. (If you’re interested in a good buzz.) Critics, however, say the White House strategy doesn’t go far enough. Friends of the Earth issued a stinging rebuke to the administration’s plan, charging that it “failed to adequately address the impact of pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides on bees and other pollinators.” Puns aside, it’s a serious issue. According to The Washington Post:
“Over the past five years, winter losses of commercial honeybee colonies have averaged roughly 30 percent. A consortium of universities and research laboratories announced last week that beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies between April 2014 and 2015, an 8 percent spike from the previous year, and that the number of summer deaths exceeded winter deaths for the first time since the survey began in 2010.”
The Obama administration says honeybee pollination adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year. [Read the original article via NPR.org]
By JENNIFER BERNEY via parenting.blogs.nytimes.com
Several years ago, reports of the declining bee population inspired my partner to keep bees in our yard. Her reasons were mainly practical—not only did she want to support the vanishing bees, she hoped our plum trees might increase their yield. But it took less than one season for my partner to fall in love, and over time the number of hives in our backyard has multiplied from two to 10. At my house this week we know that spring has arrived because my 2-year-old points out the window and yells excitedly: “Bees!”
I consider both of my children lucky to know the honeybees so well. Living with a beekeeper has afforded me a chance to observe how children interact with bees. From what I’ve seen so far, they fall into two distinct camps: those who are fascinated, and those who are afraid.
There are kids who watch in wonder as the honeybees land on the stones in our birdbath and drink water through their delicate tongues, and there are kids who cover their hair with their hands and run away screaming. There are kids who knock on our door to buy a jar of honey and ask to see our bees, and there are kids who will poke a long stick through our fence and bang it against the roof of a hive.
I worry that the child who runs from bees in fear will grow up to be the adult who spots a healthy swarm in her backyard and sprays it with insecticide. I worry that the child who bangs on a hive roof will grow up to be the teenager who knocks over a neighbor’s hive in the middle of the night. These are two kinds of transgressions that happen often in my community, and they are undeserved. Unlike the many varieties of wasps, bees are gentle creatures. They pollinate our crops, make honey, and rarely sting unless provoked.
In recent years, beekeepers have continued to report high annual losses. An annual survey of beekeepers conducted by a partnership that includes the United States Department of Agriculture, released Wednesday, suggested both that significant losses in colonies continue, and that the loss rate in summer has increased. We compensate for this by breeding and replacing our lost colonies year after year. Scientists are no longer concerned that the honeybee’s extinction is imminent, but we are not yet off the hook. The disappearing bees have reminded us that our survival is interdependent. We live in collaboration with other species. A child who squashes bees or runs from them is a child who hasn’t yet learned their value, and it’s our job to teach them.
This might begin by teaching our children what a honeybee looks like. Before my partner brought home our first colony of bees, I was like many adults in that I could not distinguish a honeybee from a bumblebee, and had only the vaguest notion that wasps were a different species entirely. The yellow jacket who is harassing you at the end of summer, trying to take a bite of your ham sandwich, has little in common with the honeybee who is gathering pollen and nectar. Children are capable of making this distinction; like adults, they just need a little guidance.
Teaching children to value the honeybee might also include explaining the phenomenon of swarming, which, contrary to popular belief, is not an angry behavior. Honeybees swarm when their colony has grown healthy enough to divide in two. One half of them remain in the hive to welcome a new queen, while the other half leaves in search of a new home. They fill their bellies with nectar and travel in a cluster to shelter their old queen. The sight of a cluster of bees on a branch in a yard or a park is an opportunity for observation, a lesson about the intelligence of the insect world.
And that is the real lesson the bees offer: as smart as we humans are, we don’t know everything. At my house we can dance to Beyoncé in the living room, but we can’t wiggle our butts in a sequence so precise that it communicates the location of a nectar source three miles away. Bees can.
My partner has a practice that many beekeepers would find silly. Though a typical worker bee lives for only six weeks, in the evening my partner often picks up bees who have grown cold and fallen just outside the entrance to their hive. She collects them in a jar, brings them inside our house to warm them up and later, once they are restored, she returns them to their home. I used to tease her about this. Bees are members of a complex system. They are not individuals, and it struck me as foolish to attend to them as such. But then last week I saw my 6-year-old son crouch in front of a hive at dusk to gather languishing bees in his small hand. In that moment I realized what the bees had taught him — it’s the very lesson we all need to learn: that every small part of the system counts for something.
[Read original article via parenting.blogs.nytimes.com]
POSTED BY JOHN SCHREIBER via mynewsla.com
Beekeeping would be legal in the backyards of Los Angeles homes under regulations to be considered soon by a City Council committee.
The proposed rules — approved by the city planning commission this week and now headed to the council’s Planning and Land Use Committee — would allow hobbyists and others interested in small-scale beekeeping to maintain hives in single-family residential settings.
Beekeepers would need to adhere to certain restrictions under the proposed rules. No more than one hive would be allowed for each 2,500 square feet of space, and there must be a 5-foot buffer between the hive and the front, side and rear lot lines of the property.
Hives also must be at least 20 feet away from public right of way or a private streets and cannot be kept in the front yard, according to the rules.
The proposed ordinance also calls for hives to be surrounded by a 6-foot wall, fence or hedge, or else it must be set 8 feet above ground, so that the bees would be encouraged to stay above “human-level.”
The bees also must have access to a nearby water source within the beekeeper’s property so that the bees would not need to travel outside to look for water.
If the City Council approves the ordinance, Los Angeles would join Santa Monica in legalizing so-called “backyard” or “urban” beekeeping. The hobby also is allowed in other urban areas such as New York City and Denver.
The Los Angeles Planning Department and the city attorney created the proposed rules after the City Council ordered a study last February into ways to legalize backyard beekeeping.
The council action came in response to a growing chorus of Angelenos advocating for “urban beekeeping,” including from some residents in the Mar Vista area who said increased beekeeping helps to fight a troubling, downward trend in the bee population that could threaten the health of local agriculture.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who supports legalizing urban beekeeping, said last year the state has been losing a third of its bees a year since 2006, threatening California’s avocado and almond industry.
Some council members voiced concerns, however, that the bees could pose a danger to residents, with Councilman Bernard Parks referring to a National Geographic documentary entitled “Attack of the Killer Bees,” about a dangerous variety of bees that appear to be encroaching into southern United States.
Planning officials who consulted bee experts over the last year wrote in a recent city report that the variety of honey bees used in beekeeping are “non-aggressive,” but they may “sting in self-defense of their hive if it is approached.”
The report adds that when the bees leave their hives to collect food — potentially coming in contact with humans — they “do not become defensive or aggressive or have reason to sting.”
The report also notes Los Angeles already averages about 8 to 10 feral bee hives per each square mile. The addition of backyard honey bees would not cause a shortage of bee food supply in the city due to the area’s steady climate, but if there were a shortage, the feral populations would likely leave the area to find alternative sources of food supply, according to the bee experts consulted by planning officials.
— City News Service
Help us save the honey bees!!
Your contribution directly supports the educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees. HoneyLove is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible.