Helping the Honey Bee

I just don't think the human race gives insects enough credit for all they do for us.

Think about it. Insects must deal with the pressure of simply surviving in a world that is constantly evolving. That includes not being eaten by a bird that is flying by or getting snared in a spider’s web.

Helping the Honey BeeAnd while insects are struggling to eat and not be eaten, they’re also playing a huge role in our ecosystem, which I should mention keeps us alive. Those roles include aerating soil, pollinating blossoms, controlling insects that are plant pests, and even decomposing dead animals and plants, which returns nutrients to the soil. It’s not an easy job.

And these days, it’s been especially tough to be a honey bee. And honey bees, it turns out, play a VERY IMPORTANT role in the ecosystem.

Honey bees are responsible for the pollination of over 100 crops, providing the country with 80% of the U.S. pollination services. Trouble is, honey bee colonies are crashing in the U.S. and around the world. There are plenty of theories about what might be causing the collapse, including environmental changes, pesticides, and pollution, but nobody has pinpointed an exact reason.

So now the big question for all of us is: how can we help the honey bee survive?

Here are three easy steps that you can consider taking to do your part. You can call them “the inside buzz”!

  1. Plant things that bees like — Bees love to pollinate, so plants things that bees like to visit, such as clovers, tulips, sunflowers, and other flowering plants with attractive coloring (preferably blue, purple, or yellow). Look for flowers that provide food all year. Plant some early flowering plants and also mid and late season plants as well. Late season plants such as aster and golden-rod are very important.
  2. Be careful with chemicals — Read the labels about the contents and how to use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Some chemicals are toxic to bees and can also be harmful for people if not used properly.
  3. Support local beekeepers — Local beekeepers are not only concerned about the health of bees, but they raise bees that help pollinate crops in your area. Bees can travel up to 10 miles in search of food. You do not have to travel very far for the products. They can be found at your local farmers' market and also your local health food or grocery store.

Lets get buzzing!!!

- Frank Graff

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!

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