Column: The buzz about bees

Jean Wightman is a longtime South Delta resident and leads the Go Green Delta Book and Film group. - File Photo
Jean Wightman is a longtime South Delta resident and leads the Go Green Delta Book and Film group.
— image credit: File Photo

When spring arrived this year, I was delighted to hear birds singing and bees buzzing near my early blooming rhododendron bush.  Without bees, plants could not be pollinated, could they?

Without pollination, we would have little to eat and few flowers to enjoy.  I have recently read much about the importance of bees to agriculture.

What’s frightening is the phenomenon, labelled Colony Collapse Disorder, in which worker bees from a hive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear? Some loss of bees has always occurred in apiculture.

However, when bees began disappearing and dying in large numbers in North American colonies in 2005/06 a lot of red flags were raised. Almond farmers in California need 1.4 million hives to pollinate their crops. If there are not enough bees, crops will not thrive (almonds contribute $14 to $15 billion to agriculture).

The growth of neonicotinoids such as clothianidin and imidacloprid (widely used pesticides) has tracked the rising number of bee deaths since 2005.

Indications of the persistence of these pesticides are seen in irrigation channels and soils. Recent studies by the European Food Safety Authority indicate that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees (BBC News, April 2013). We do not know if and when the use of these products will stop.

After all Bayer Crop Science—a leading UK provider of crop protection solutions--has much to lose if bans are imposed. How did society  manage without the use of such powerful chemicals?

In The Incomparable Honey Bee,  Dr. Reese Halter writes in detail about the value of honey for health and also reminds us when purchasing honey, to buy local.

Chinese honey, according to Halter, has been banned in the U.S. because it is contaminated with antibiotics and lead. I recommend that folks purchase Westham Island Apiary honey, available at Boundary Bay Earthwise Farm, and that  they also  grow bee friendly plants, also available for purchase at Earthwise.

Go Green Delta Book and Film group has invited Westham Island beekeepers to our June meeting, to which all are welcome.

Please become ‘bee aware’. Read what the buzz is about. As you learn, take action.

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