Monday, April 16, 2007

Vanishing bees?

Beehive by Anthony Morrow

Over the last few months, haphazardly, some mention is being made of the vanishing bees all over the world. They do not leave a trace and simply vanish into thin air.
There are quite a few articles about it on the net :
bbc news
Collony collapse disorder . wikipedia has a whole entry on it

Why is it important? Guess it depends on how you feel about bees.
Personally, I studied bees at school as a system, as well as ant colonies. It seemed an orderly world, self sufficient sort of world with clearly defined roles depending on whether you were a worker bee or the queen. The shapes produced in the hive were fantastic to look at and the end result, the honey’ a perfect edible thing. In fact to date honey is the only product that is not artificially produced. It may be mixed with sugar syrup but it cannot be made in any other way than by a bee.
Why is the bee vanishing? There are many speculations but without evidence of bodies that can be scientifically observed, it will be impossible to get an answer.
The fact is, they are vanishing and when the balance is upset in nature we should take notice.
Bees may appear to be insignificant on the surface of it, but they play an important role in the pollination of our crops and without this, there will eventually be no crops unless we are going to take on the role of the bees by using paint brushes to go from flower to flower ( you jest it may come to that).
We could turn the problem around. We can expect that they are sensible creatures, reacting to something that has changed for their very survival.
It could be climate ( we are working on that one). It could be pesticides ( we are working on that as well with the organic movement).
We cannot change the weather patterns but to me it is visible that the normal weather pattern is out of sync.
My sallow tree in the garden plays host to bees in the early spring and there were some around. Planting hedges will also provide flowers and blossoms for them to eat.
We do not usually cultivate flowers for bees but maybe our gardens could have varieties that will encourage and support bees. Last year the bees swarmed in may when the rape seeds were out in flower in the fields. The flowers have been blooming since the 10th April and a week ago was the coldest recorded day in April. No rain has fallen for 3 weeks following a soaked winter.

Plants in your garden that support bees :

Early spring
Cotoneaster (e.g. horozontalis)
Flowering current
Chaenomeles Japonica (Ornamental Quince - starts flowering very early)
Pussy willow (sallows)
Winter-flowering honeysuckle (for early queens coming out of hibernation)
Winter flowering heathers
Bee helpful, support the bees in your garden.

Late spring-early summer
Monks Hood
Roses (Old English)
Pea (everlasting, sweet, crops)
Eryngium (sea holly genus)
Heathers (summer flowering)
Mallows (Malva and Lavertera)
Pea flowers (of various types)
Sage and allies
Thistle type flowers

The fact that bees are disappearing is a symptom, we need to look at what is the cause of their disappearance but we have no tangible evidence. The only thing I feel I can do is to encourage the support network bees need to survive which is the plant list above. If you can, do the same.
If as a bee expert, you can contribute anything else we could do, then please leave a comment.

1 comment:

Gillybean said...

Here in NZ our local council was requesting the public to report wild bee swarms so they could eradicate them. They are trying to protect the local aparists from the veroa bee mite but there is alot of concern about this interference in the ecosystem and local gardeners are not at all supportive of these actions. Enjoy yor informative post as usual.