Bees Are In Danger, Here’s Why You Should Care
Why are bees in danger?
Bees are dying at never before seen rates due to an emerging threat called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. The first official account of CCD was reported in 2006 when Beekeepers began noticing a drastic increase in the disappearance of honey bee colonies in North America (with approximately 25-30% of colonies dying every year). There is no one single cause of CCD, but research points to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (commonly used on GMO crops) as the main culprit. Other factors include the invasion of varroa mites, and the impacts of climate change. To note, New Zealand has not recorded the same increases in Colony Collapse Disorder that have been seen in North America. For New Zealand bees, weather extremes that affect the delicate Manuka flower have been the bigger threat.
What are neonicotinoid pesticides and why are they harmful to bees?
Neonicotinoid pesticides have a similar chemical structure to nicotine. Plants absorb the pesticide, which is toxic to bees but has low toxicity to humans and other mammals, and transfer it to insects through pollen and nectar. Neonicotinoid pesticides act on insects’ central nervous system, interfering with honey production, their ability to navigate and fly, and their reproductive capabilities, resulting in paralysis and eventually death.
Bees are at risk, how does this affect you?
We rely on honey bees for nearly ONE THIRD of our entire entire food supply. Foods like avocados, almonds, apples, coffee, oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and garlic would not exist without bees to pollinate them. Bees also play a vital role in our global ecosystem. Plants depend on bees to reproduce, insects depend on plants for food and shelter, small animals depend on insects for food, larger animals depend on small animals and plants for food, shelter and medicine - and so on up the food chain. A world without bees will affect every aspect of our way of life.
How can you help save the bees?
It’s not just up to beekeepers and farmers to address the plight of bees. There are simple steps that you can take right now to make the world friendlier for bees. Start by creating a bee-friendly garden (Learn how here). When treating your lawn or garden, avoid using chemicals and pesticides. Plant bee-loving flowers and herbs such as; lavender, rosemary, sage, sunflowers, redbud, catnip, aster and echinacea. And buy your honey from sustainable companies!
What are Comvita’s sustainability practices?
Healthy bees and honey start at the source. Our hives are located far from pollution and agricultural sprays in remote forests in New Zealand, a country free of Genetically Modified crops. While our bees are busiest during the Manuka flowering season (typically September through February), we ensure our bees are looked after and hives protected throughout the year. Comvita also owns a queen bee-rearing facility to ensure that our bee colonies have good genetic diversity, high productivity and youthful Queens, all of which contribute to healthy hives. To learn more about Comvita’s sustainability practices, check out the article here.
Sources used for this article: