By Maddy Julien
“The rule of thumb is one in four things that you touch in a day basically result of bee pollination,” said Fortune. Nearly everything we come into contact with has been touched by bees from the clothes we wear to the food we eat.
Colony Collapse Disorder basics
CCD is when worker bees abandon their hives and their queen for no distinguishable reason. However there is no
singular cause to CCD, “it’s like going to the doctor and saying ‘I’m sick’,” said Al Fortune a beekeeper at Bennett’s Honey Farm. “Colony Collapse Disorder is sort of an umbrella for lots of things.” CCD can be caused by environmental issues, biological issues, physiological issues, pesticides, mites and bears.
Bees face many hardships, a lot of which are inflicted by natural causes. Bacterias such as Nosema Teradata are a big problem among beekeepers. This particular bacteria creates intestinal digestive problems which cause the bees to dehydrate and die off. This bacteria kills bees off in large numbers. “Unfortunately we take a lot of time and effort to make sure our bees are nice and healthy but we put them in the bee yard and a mile away there’s sick bees and those sick bees can cross contaminate our bees which is another issue,” said Fortune.
“The compounding health effects of pesticides in those pollination fields are also a factor,” said Stacy Mckenna secretary of Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. Most agricultural plants use pesticides to keep out pests but since the bees pollinate most of these plant they are being affected as well. Many pesticides kill the bees instantly but some of them do not affect the bees until much later. This is causing beekeepers to be more careful where they place their colonies.
Why it is important to save the bees
A world without bees is one that the world may soon know at the rate in which bees are dying. Bees are very important to the function of the earth’s plants. Without bees plants cannot get the proper pollination they need to produce healthy plants.
At the rate in which the bee population is decreasing we could be in real danger. The amount of registered bee colonies in the United States has gone from five billion to 2.1 billion over the last 25-30 years. “Beekeepers used to expect a 10%-15% die-off, and over the past decade have become accustomed to a 30% or higher winter die-off rate,” said Stacy Mckenna.
Many beekeepers are located in the Heritage Valley just outside of Santa Clarita. Beekeepers will move their bees here from all over the United States to help pollinate the farm lands because California produces most of the nation’s produce.“Bee pollination is vital to the beekeepers,” said Fortune. Every spring all the beekeepers in the United States move their bees to San Joaquin, CA to help with the pollination of almond crops. Without commercial beekeepers such as these ones the crops would not produce nearly as much as they do with bee pollination. Bees are very important to agriculture so without them we could be facing a major decline in crop production. “So If we ever lose the bees we’re in trouble. We’re in real trouble.”
What the average person can do to help
“Ya know the best thing that the average person can do right now is education, becoming aware of it,” said Fortune. By this he means that people need to become aware of the decreasing bee population. People can start by calling a local bee removal company that moves the bee swarms rather than killing them when they are found in urban areas. Bee farms like the Bennett’s Honey Farm can be called to remove the bees and relocate them safely.
Another thing that people can do is to plant pollinator friendly plants, flowers and nectar producing plants. Plants such as rosemary, lavender, bee balm, sunflowers, verbena, etc that produce a lot of pollen that bees and other pollinators will come to get nectar from. Homeowners can also put recirculating water fountains in their yards. Since California is in a drought bees are having a hard time finding a water source. Beekeepers like Fortune will put out water for the bees so that they don’t hurt anyone who doesn’t want the company. “We put 300 gallons of water out every 10 days for the bees they go through a lot of it so water is very important to them,” said Fortune.
A very small thing we can do to help a bee that looks tired or sick is to give them a mixture of sugar and water. The mixture should be two times the amount of water to the amount sugar. This will help the bees perk up and move on to pollinate more plants.
The biggest thing we all can do for bees is to educate ourselves and each other and gain awareness about our pollinating friends.
Bennett’s Honey Farm
Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association