Not many of us realize it, but honeybees are actually essential to our ecosystems and food. After all, without their help with cross-pollination, we won’t have the fruits, nuts, seeds or any of the vegetables that we enjoy today.
Protect the Bees!
Yet, these precious creatures are under threat today for a few main reasons. To start off, insecticides pose a severe risk to honey bees. As more of the agriculture industry resort to using insecticides and chemicals on crops, the negative impact on individual bees and their colonies grow exponentially. Parasites are the next biggest threat, followed by a change of diet and a variety of flowers. On top of all these, the honey bees also face threats from new and emerging viruses that they are vulnerable to.
As you can probably tell by now, honeybees are a very vulnerable species, so it’s more imperative that we protect them before it’s too late. In fact, statistics show that almost all colonies in the wild are on the verge of dying out — and what we do have are mostly reared and cared for by professional beekeepers.
That begs the question: if we’re not beekeepers, how can we still help the honeybees? We’re glad you asked. Here are four ways you can do your part to help the honeybees — and in turn, help ourselves and our ecosystems.
1. “Bee” a good friend to the bees
When you see a friend rush up to you, you’re likely to stay calm and collected, maybe even relaxed. On the other hand, if someone you don’t recognize rushes up to you, you’re more likely to panic and attempt to defend yourself or hit them away.
Well, when it comes to bees, it’s important to treat them as friends rather than as strangers or threats. If one happens to hover near you, stay cool! While we all want to avoid bee stings, it’s important to keep calm and not swat your hands around as you would to a housefly or mosquito. Instead, step away calmly, and if you can, get under a tree or some shelter. The bee is likely to hover for a little moment more, and then lose interest and fly away.
To prevent them from coming to you in the first place, remember that bees aren’t fans of alcohol, soaps, and perfumes. Dark clothing can also confuse bees into thinking that you’re a bear — so if you match any of the descriptions, it’s best to just steer clear of any beehives.
2. Seek professional help for swarms
Admittedly, it’s scary to have a swarm of honeybees in your backyard or on your roof. But trust us, it’s a completely natural thing that colonies do. For us humans, the first thing we want to do is to get rid of the swarm, and many of us might resort to spraying water or pesticide on hand.
However, that’s actually the last thing that you want to do, especially if you’re not experienced in dealing with bees. As a matter of fact, it might provoke and make the bees more aggressive.
What you should do in this case is to call a professional beekeeper who’ll know exactly what to do. That way, you won’t get hurt, and neither will the bees! In what seems to be a honeybee emergency, remember that swarms are natural and mostly gentle, so try to resist the temptation to get rid of them ASAP.
3. Get rid of foreign honey sources
As humans, we have the privilege of getting honey from anywhere we want in the world, and that’s a good thing. Honey does have its benefits, and different varieties from around the world have their own advantages.
However, we should always keep in mind that it’s not exactly natural for honey from the other side of the world to be available to us. As much as all honey seems to be the same, honey from a different country might contain special strains of bacteria or spores that are harmful to honeybees in your area.
Even leaving a honey jar outside your house can cause honeybees to eat what’s left in the jar and potentially infect them. The situation worsens when the infected honeybee brings the infection to its hive, where it could well lead to the downfall of the entire colony.
The bees don’t know any better, but we do. So always wash any honey jars if you’re leaving them out, and make sure that any honey you have from overseas is tightly sealed. Disposing honey jars correctly can make a world of difference for these little creatures!
4. Be an advocate for bees
We don’t realize it, but a large part of the bees’ survival rests on public policies and resources allocated to study and protect the honeybees.
Funding for research into viruses and diseases that infect honeybees, for example, is one of the key components we have to secure if we want to successfully protect the bees. However, governments around the world tend to overlook the importance of bees and pollination in the agricultural sector, and as such, underfund such research efforts.
The variety of flowers and plants in public spaces is also something that governments control and manage. Some plants will attract and benefit the honeybees, such as mints, sunflowers, foxgloves, and larkspur — basically almost every plant in the allium family, large flowers and taller plants.
As such, what you can do is write to your local governments and encourage them to plant and plan public gardens or parks with such plants. Also, you can help to start petitions or create movements to secure more funding for beekeeping and bee research. If anything, look into how bees can benefit the economy through pollination and honey, and raise those benefits to your authorities. If enough people stand with you, it’ll make for a convincing argument indeed.
Now that you know these four tips, share them with your friends and family. The more people know about bees and how important they are, the more likely concrete action will be taken to preserve the honeybees and ensure that colonies survive for a long time to come.