It’s a beautiful sunny day. You’re walking along a concrete pavement decorated with colorful lively flowers when all of a sudden, you hear a familiar buzzing sound. Looking up, you find yourself face to face with a little flying creature — the honey bee. Now, in this situation, most people will do two things: run away so it doesn’t kill you or swat it until you kill it. Swatting a bee will both anger and hurt it which will lead to a series of unfortunate events — getting swarmed by their friends or being stung by the victim himself. If allergic, once stung, you will begin to swell up alarmingly into the size of a hot air balloon (just kidding). You’ll cry out in pain or curse the bee, forming a hatred for it for the rest of your life. SOS right? Little did you know, those “dangerous” honey bees, a disappearing wonder of the world, are the ones that need saving.
Often misunderstood, honey bees play a major role in our ecosystem and our economy. For one, they beautify our planet with lively vibrant flowers. Two, they help pollinate the fruits and vegetables we carelessly consume today. And three, they produce Winnie the Pooh’s (and of course some of ours) favorite food — honey. These hard working honey bees are often seen flying from one flower to another, pollinating each significant one as they go. Once pollinated, a nut or a seed blooms and eventually become the many different fruits and vegetables we enjoy — watermelons, apples, cherries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins and almonds. On top of pollinating, their other full time job is dedicated to producing the very thing they are named after — honey. Each year, millions upon millions pounds of raw honey are produced by these tiny underappreciated honey bees.
Here’s even sadder news. Over the past several years, the honey bee population has seen a major decline. What’s worse is that not many people seem to notice, or if they do, many turn a blind eye. But the disappearance of the beloved honey bees is a serious issue. Without these honey bees, there would be a loss in beautiful flower fields, a collapse of our food system, and of course, the disappearance of honey. Factors that contribute to the decline of the bee population include the loss of their habitats, our excessive use of pesticides, other invasive species, diseases such as colony collapse disorder, and (not many know this) the loud sounds and vibrations produced by heavy machinery like lawnmowers and leaf blowers. If you think this doesn’t affect you yet, think again. As the honey bee population continue to decline, so will our favorite foods. The next time you take a bite out of an apple, order fries at the drive through, or add honey to your tea — think of how it got there. What part of the process did the honey bee contribute to? The reality is, if they go down, they’re taking us all with them.
The Latest Buzz: Honey Bees, A Disappearing Wonder – Here’s What You Can Do to Help
- Support Local Beekeepers. Substitute buying your honey and other beehive products from large commercial manufacturers to buying them from your local beekeepers. Beekeepers passionately committed to nurturing their bees as if they were their children. Each jar of honey you buy is a jar of honey supporting their business. Plus, beekeepers give you the good stuff — real raw honey — rather the filtered, sugary substitute you find at your big chain supermarket.
- Avoid Pesticides and Buy Organic. For those that like to grow flowers, plants, and other greeneries outside of your home, avoid using harsh toxic pesticides. They are harmful to the environment and everyone around you. Instead, use non-toxic and non-chemical treatments such as EcoSMART or your own homemade solution. You can also use other insects (yes, you read that right) such as ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises to keep pests away from your garden — creating a safer environment for the honey bees.
- Plant a Bee Garden. Do I hear a new family project? Plant flowers and native plants in your front or back yard to help feed bees and other pollinators. Click here for more information on how to perfect your bee garden and click here on how to grow a general “backyard wildlife habitat”. You might not know this, but some annoying weeds may be golden food for the bees.
- Take the Pledge. Sign this pledge and agree (with millions of others) to provide a care package for the honey bees. When you sign it, you pledge to follow the Four Pollinator Protection Principles. It’s literally as easy as one, two, three, and four. Most of us are on our phones anyway. The next time you’re on it, click this link and take the pledge.
- Put a Water Bowl Out. No pets? No problem! Your bees can become your pets. As you would with any pets, put a small bowl of water outside for the bees to drink and enjoy. Bees appreciate this after a long and hot day of working. They’ll thank you and buzz with happiness.
- Educate, Educate, Educate. Use your voice and spread awareness on the importance of honey bees. Contrary to popular belief, they are not as scary as people think they are. Like you and me–they’re just looking for some love. Get involved with your community by volunteering at a local beekeeper shelter or looking into your local environmental centers or local agriculture or nature centers. Even the White House is tackling the honey bee issue (click here for more details).
The next time you encounter a honey bee, don’t kill it, anger it, or swat at it. Instead, keep this article in mind and take action on how you can save these humble honey bees.