I tend to scan my newsfeed with a pretty critical eye these days. It seems to be flooded with shocking headlines that persuade you to ‘click’ only to reveal articles written from biased opinions, bad science or poorly sourced information. But last year, one article in particular caught my critical peepers and lit a fire in my belly. The article showed an alarming picture of what our grocery stores would look like without bees. Nearly 52% of the produce was removed from the shelves! It is estimated that nearly 1/3rd of all crops are pollinated by bees. So being a lover of all things edible, I decided to dig further into the alarming statistics about the declining health of our bees.
“Every third bite of food you take, thank a bee or other pollinator.”
adapted from E.O. Wilson, Forgotten Pollinators, 1996
I decided to take my bee curiosity straight to the pros at Beekeeper’s Naturals to get the low down on our little pollinating pals. These guys are super passionate about bees and a offer up a wealth of knowledge!
(My questions are in bold)
What is the most alarming bee fact affecting us today?
Over the course of the 2013-2014 winter, 58% of bee colonies in Ontario were killed. That was over double the amount of the second highest province and almost quadruple the long-term average of 15%. Something is obviously not right.
What do you find most fascinating about bees?
It’s hard to pick just one! One of our favourite things is the “waggle dance” (go check it out on Youtube). Bees will dance (or waggle) to show other colony members the distance and direction to extra delicious flowers, possible new nest locations and good water sources. This is one of the really cool ways that the bees communicate with each other. The more excited the bee about its finding, the faster it will waggle!
If the bees are in danger, are we contributing to the problem by using bee based products like honey & pollen?
The key is to practice and support sustainable beekeeping. A healthy hive can produce much more than the bees actually need (up to 2-3x more honey!). Modern beekeeping with movable frames allows beekeepers to take advantage of the bees’ natural instinct to fill up the hive and then swarm (multiply). If you let the bees have as much honey and pollen as they need and only take what’s extra, there is no harm done to the bees.
After all, healthy bees = happy beekeepers.
The major problems facing the bees right now are related to pests and disease, chemical exposure/pesticides and a lack of food variety.
And lastly, do honey badgers make honey and do they really not give a shit?
Contrary to popular belief honey badgers do not make honey. However, they do have a particular fondness for honey (who doesn’t!) and seek out beehives for this delicious treat, which earns them their name. They’ve also been known to steal kills from young lions (probably amped up on the benefits of all that honey). Suffice to say, you would be correct – they really don’t give a shit.
Big Thanks to BeeKeeper’s Naturals