The decline in the number of bees is not only a local problem but also a global problem. In South Africa Honey bees are essential for the pollination of at least 50 different commercially grown crops.
Bee population decline isn’t due to one single factor though. Mostly the health of bees is affected by modern agricultural methods, as these influence the life cycle of bees and loss of their habitat. Pesticides are another huge concern.
We can help preserve our honey bees by doing the following:
- Stop using pesticides where possible. Find out if organic alternatives can be used.
- Help bees boost their own immunity. To make propolis, bees collect plant resins from twigs, tree bark or leaf buds. This resin has various antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which is essential for the health of a bee colony. So, rethink those sprawling lawns and instead plant trees and shrubs so that honey bees may have the sources of raw materials they need.
- Use only honey from reputable suppliers. Brands which use sweeteners and corn syrup to thin out the honey supplied by them aren’t likely to be using sustainable methods to harvest honey from bee hives.
- Consider humane insect-removal companies when you need to get rid of a swarm of bees on your property. Look for “no-kill” bee removal services which keep the hive intact.
- Establish community gardens, with plants that are popular with honey bees.
- Leave containers of water around your garden. Bees get thirsty too with all that pollination.
- Plant as many indigenous plants and shrubs that you can, so bees have enough food. This handy article serves as a good guide on what plants bees love.
We can definitely do a lot to help our humble honey bee thrive and grow their populations.