In 2006, Beekeepers around the world began to sound the alarm of disappearing bees. Many bees would take off from their hives and not return. This issue has been labeled, Colony Collapse Disorder by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Due to this disorder, one third of all honey bee colonies in the world have disappeared.
Many different things could be causing the loss of honey bees; pesticide exposure, invasive parasitic mites, an inadequate food supply and a new virus targeting the honey bees' immune system could be the cause. Many of you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with me?”. Well thanks to the honey bee, half of the produce you find in your grocery stores are possible.
According to the NRDC, “Without bees to pollinate many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, the United States could lose $15 billion worth of crops,” and Beyond Toxics says, “70% of America's food source is pollinated by bees,” meaning that your food supply is in danger.
So what can you do? Sadly, there isn't much you can do about the mites or viruses but you can help against the pesticides and and the food supply. Simply plant a honey bee friendly plant. For example, Lavender. Lavender is hard to grow in Indiana's clay filled soil, but as an urban gardener you can control your soil a lot easier. Lavender is prone to root rot and other water related diseases so keeping it's roots dry is key. Placing rocks or clay chips in the bottom of your pot will help to keep your plant healthy. Lavender is great for cooking and it is good food for the honey bees.
Every little bit helps. Planting bee friendly plants can help feed a number of bees. If you don't think bees are that important, here is a small list of foods that need bees' pollination complements of the NRDC.
Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Avocadoes, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Citrus, Cranberries, Grapes, Kiwifruit, Loganberries, Macadamia nuts, Nectarines, Olives, Peaches, Pears, Plums/Prunes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Asparagus, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Onions, Pumpkins, Squash, Watermelons, Alfalfa Hay, Alfalfa Seed, Cotton Lint, Cotton Seed, Legume Seed, Peanuts, Rapeseed, Soybeans, Sugar Beets, Sunflowers
Remember this list when you are making yours for the grocery store. It is important to keep the honey bees alive and thriving or the world's produce could completely collapse. The extinction of the honey bee means the extinction of many of your favorite and needed food.
Vanishing Bees, National Resources Defense Council, Aug. 8, 2013. http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/animals/bees.asp?gclid=CI2t1aTJh7kCFZFFMgod...