Bees used to be a common sight in gardens and among wildflowers, but now the vital species is heading toward extinction.
Bees are responsible for one-third of all food crops in the world and help pollinate 80% of wild plants. One in every three bites of food we eat is the product of their hard work.
The once thriving species saw a 90% decline in population and is “now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The rusty patched bumblebee was the first-ever bee to be listed on the endangered species list back in 2017. Bees are an integral part of our food system, but their populations are declining at an alarming rate due to pesticides, Varroa mites, deforestation, climate change, and lack of flowers.
Animal activists and environmentalists are urging people to stop using dangerous neonicotinoid pesticides that kill bees and other pollinators.
Beekeepers continue to battle the parasite mite, Varroa destructor, that attaches to honeybees and sucks their fat body tissue – killing countless colonies every year. The previous chemical strips and non-chemical solutions have started to become ineffective as the mites build up resistance. It is a major problem for beekeepers and one they still haven’t found a permanent solution for.
Activists are determined to preserve the species by protecting their natural habitats and raising awareness on how the increased temperature due to climate change is killing bees.
The past five years have been the hottest on record, which has led to more bees either leaving areas they once lived for cooler areas, or dying. Wild flora, food source for bees, has also died off due to the increased temperature and deforestation.
Peter Soroye, doctoral student at the University of Ottawa, performed a study on how climate change is affecting bumblebees across North America and Europe. The results were posted in the journal Science. “These declines are linked to species being pushed beyond temperatures they haven’t previously had to tolerate,” he states.
The study found, “that an increasing frequency of unusually hot days is increasing local extinction rates, reducing colonization and site occupancy, and decreasing species richness within a region.”
The world cannot survive without bees and changes need to be made in order to protect the most important species on the planet. Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
With the increasing air temperature and more natural disasters, flowers and plants that are a food source for bees and other pollinators are being destroyed. Millions of acres have been burned from wildfires, uprooted by tornadoes, and flooded by hurricanes – destroying all food sources for bees and thousands of other species.
Bees are starving in some areas due in part to the lack of wildflowers. One honeybee can visit up to 100 flowers on a single flight, with most bees making multiple flights a day. Project Peril, a signature program of GreaterGood.org, stepped up to help beekeepers in Florida after Hurricane Michael destroyed three million acres of forest. Through generous donations, beekeepers are being provided supplemental feed of sugar and pollen where honeybees live until wild flora returns. Project Peril is committed to saving ALL bee populations working with the best non-profits to help plant bee-friendly forage and raise awareness on the importance of bees.
One of the ways you can help save the bees is by making your yard more bee-friendly. Bee kind and plant native wildflowers that bloom all seasons and forgo dangerous pesticides.
What flowers can I plant for bees?
In order to save the bees, we all need to plant more flowers. Local beekeepers are a great resource of information and can recommend which flowers to plant in your area. Here are some flowers that we know bees love:
Asclepias (AKA Milkweed)
In addition, add a wooden bee house to your yard in a location that gets morning sun. More pretty flowers turns into more bees that pollinate more crops for more food. So as you can see, it is a win for everyone.
Together, we can save the hardworking bees by planting wildflowers for them to feed on. With your help, we are planting pollen-rich wildflowers in areas devastated by natural disasters. Donate now to help save the bees!
National Honey Bee Day is August 15th and bees are in desperate need of our help. Learn more in the video below.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.