Updated … What is going on with our bees?

Below is our post on the 2006 bee colony collapse that brought attention and additional research to study this potentially huge problem.  Since this post, bee hives and bee populations have increased significantly and the causes of the collapse have been studied without the hysteria of a problem without a solution. The most recent USDA study and findings can be seen here – – http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/03/usda-study-concludes-neonics-not-driving-bee-deaths-as-white-house-set-to-announce-bee-revival-plan/.  The evidence seems to be mounting that the focus on pesticides and neonics in particular is misplaced as the key study did what many had feared, used an unrealistic amount of the pesticide not found in practice, anywhere, to kill bees. Here is an excellent 7 minute video to help educate us all: http://americanhort.org/AmericanHort/Membership/Private/protect_bees.aspx.

 

What is going on with our bees? (Original Post)
Honeybees are in trouble. In the last 50 years, experts say the domesticated honey bee population declined nearly 50 percent in the USA. This year was one of the worst on record, with some U.S. beekeepers losing 60 percent of their hives.

Colony Collapse Disorder – the phenomenon in which worker bees disappear leaving behind a queen, food and a few nurse bees – started making news in 2006 but answers of “why?” are sparse. An identified source of trouble is that Pollinators are exposed to many pesticides. One class of chemistry – neonicotinoids – has been in the media and regulatory spotlight as of late. Pollinators are exposed to these widely used insecticides through direct contact with sprays and residue on plants. They also are exposed by ingesting the pollen and nectar of neonicotinoid-treated plants, though at lower levels.

The one thing experts seem to agree on is that many factors affect bee health: mites, viruses, bacteria, disease; poor nutrition and beekeeping practices; the transportation of hives cross country; habitat loss; genetically modified plants; lack of genetic diversity; weather and pesticides.

Your landscaping, lawn care & gardening practices play a big role in both protecting pollinators and encouraging their continued success, through smart applications of chemicals and promoting the best kinds of plantings. To keep up-to-date, informed and helpful:
• Follow news reports for helpful tips
• Read the labels and follow directions carefully
• Don’t apply products when bees are visiting
• Be diligent in stopping applied product drift
• PLANT for Pollinators
• Buy Local Honey
• Use safe, organic products

Planting for pollinators
One of the best ways to help bees and other beneficial bugs thrive is to give them a place to eat. The below plants are considered the backbone for any high desert garden or landscape. They are all easy care plants and some are even drought tolerant and deer resistant. Consider these plantings in the high desert to help our bee population and if at all possible, avoid using pesticides:
Herbs & Perennials

Thyme (creeping and culinary)
Rosemary
Culinary sage
Lavenders

Agastache
Chives
Garlic chives
Nepata (catmint)
Monarda
Penstemon
Asters
Kniphofia
Gaillardia
Echinacea
Yarrow
Scabiosa
Rudbeckia
Salvia
Shrubs
Potentilla
Spiraea
Russian Sage
Cotoneaster
Butterfly Bush
Rugosa Rose
Trees
Fruit Trees
Crabapples
Flowering Pears
Mountain Ashes
Lindens

As you can see, the bee-friendly list of high desert plants is a long one with many of our local favorites. Commit to do your part in saving bees!

This entry was posted on Monday, April 6th, 2015 at 10:23 pm and is filed under Children and Gardening. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.