We always look forward to National Honey Bee Day, but this year it really takes on some significance. With the rough winter, federal government cuts, and extreme losses to hives, the honey bee has never needed the exposure more than it does right now.
In recent years, roughly 30 percent of our nation’s hives were lost. However, this year seemed to see record losses throughout the country. For instance, Virginia lost almost 60 percent of its hives. Cold-weather states like Ohio were reporting similar or worse. Between colony collapse disorder, weather, and the Varroa mite, beekeepers are watching their hives virtually disappear.
Celebrating National Honey Bee Day
While the honey bee has been getting some attention lately, most Americans are still unaware of how vital this insect is to our agricultural world. For instance, did you know honey bees impact the quality of the blueberry crop every year? Without our honey bees, you would get blueberries that look more the size of raisins than they do now. Did you know without honey bees, we would lose almond crops altogether? Of course, this does not even take into account the honey industry and the byproducts in that industry, such as bee pollen.
You Can Help the Honey Bee Too
As part of the education efforts, we need to get the word out to everyone how they can help the honey bee thrive during these times. Here are just a few things anyone can do to help the plight of the honey bee:
Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers in Your Garden – rather than planting random plants, focus on the different flowers that provide pollen and nectar for honeybees and plant them in your garden. Additionally, don’t be afraid to let your garden go a little bit. Flowers like dandelions are not exactly welcome in most gardens, but the honey bees love them!
Avoid Harmful Pesticides – pesticides have become one of the leading killers of honey bees. They are not only dangerous when sprayed on flowers and plants honey bees pollinate. Certain other insects can carry pesticides from other plants and leave residue on flowers and plants honey bees use for nectar. When they ingest that residue, it is just as harmful as that plant being sprayed directly.
Educate – it is important for people to understand the honey bee behavior and to understand these bees are actually docile insects unless they feel threatened. Additionally, make sure people are aware of the services that will rescue bees rather than exterminate them during infestations.
For more information about National Honey Bee Day, click here.