Randalls Island Park Alliance

Bee Nice

In Ask a Gardener, General Plants on October 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

By Merryl Spence

Photo: Merryl & Poppies, Native Garden, Randall’s Island, 2012

As a gardener I love bees. Heck, as a human being I love bees. Bees are a vital part of our everyday garden activities and life as the human race knows it. Bees make our food world and plant world go round. Really they do. If these pollinators ceased to exist, whole communities could collapse. A few basic bee tidbits if you will:

* Its estimated that bees pollinate a third of the food we eat, at a value of $15 billion per year. Yup, yup. http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572

* Bee venom has  been found to have medicinal properties, used for treating arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even fibromyalgia, and more recently to treat sexual dysfunction, cancer, epilepsy and depression. Oh yeah. http://www.apitherapy.org/

* The honeybee hive is perennial. Although quite inactive during the winter, the honeybee survives the winter months by clustering for warmth. By self-regulating the internal temperature of the cluster, the bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster (regardless of the outside temperature).  I’ve often wondered what they do in winter and here’s my answer. So cool.

I recently watched the documentary about disappearing bees, Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? The film examines the global bee crisis through the eyes of beekeepers, scientists, farmers and philosophers. Wild and managed honeybee populations have been in decline for the last 30 years, according to the USDA. But in 2006 beekeepers began reporting 30 to 90 percent losses in their bee colonies, and the term colony collapse disorder became synonymous with the mysterious disappearance of bees around the world. While the reason isn’t fully understood, possible causes include pathogens, viruses, pesticides, environmental change-related stress, malnutrition and migratory beekeeping.

There’s not a solution for colony collapse disorder or even an exact scientific understanding of whats happening to bees as of yet. BUT,  there are several IMPORTANT things you can do to help (check out the link below). In the meantime take care of our fuzzy winged friends. We need them to survive and right about now they really need us.



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