Where Have All the Bees Gone?
The Mystery of the Disappearing Bees
Where have all the bees gone? For some time now, scientists have been reporting that bees are gradually declining in numbers and disappearing from our gardens. But why?
There are a number of theories, from a disease attacking the bees' immune systems, to mobile phone signals confusing them, to modern chemicals and pesticides killing them off. Then, of course, there is the increase in paved-over lawns, reducing the amount of clover and other plants that are attractive to bees, along with the decline in green spaces - more and more houses are being built, with virtually non-existent gardens, and consequently the number of flowers available to bees are distinctly lacking.
So what does this all mean? Does it really matter that bees are disappearing? Well, yes, it impacts us greatly as a matter of fact - bees are responsible for pollinating plants, so the theory is that if bees die out, eventually, so will plants and trees - which of course maintain the delicate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide with humans, and feed both us and animals - so unless mankind can undertake manual pollination on a mass scale, that means we'd be next on the extinction list!
So what can be done to help the bees? Actually, rather a lot. Read on to find out more!
Articles on the Disappearance of Bees
There is quite a buzz on the internet (pardon the pun) about the disappearance of bees, with numerous scientific articles, theories and reports. Here are some of the best, which explain in more detail what is happening to bees and the theories behind it all. When you've read them, don't forget to come back and vote below on your own theory!
- Bee Decline in the UK (2009)
UK bee populations have declined by between 10 and 15 per cent in the last two years and the situation is repeated across Europe.
- Backyard Beekeepers (2009)
All about the UK wanting more people to encourage bees into their backyard, and the invention of the Beehaus
- Bee Decline in the USA (2007)
It is a vanishing on the scale of entire cities. Late in 2006, commercial beekeepers in Florida began noticing alarming numbers of their bees had gone missing. Bustling colonies, tens of thousands strong, were emptying in a matter of days. Systematic
- Bee Decline on Science News for Kids (2007)
Entomologists-scientists who study insects-have a real mystery on their hands. All across the country, honeybees are leaving their hives and never returning.
- The Significance of the Bee Decline (2007)
The bees are dying. Is man soon to follow?
- Mystery of the Disappearing Bees (2007)
Disappearing bees in Somerset, England puzzle beekeepers and scientists
- Â£10 million Programme to Save Bees (2009)
Video news report on the UK government announcing a Â£10 million funding programme to research why bees are disappearing from the UK
LATEST NEWS ON BEE DECLINE
Scientists in Punjab think that experiments with bees and mobile phone devices may have shed light on the bee decline. Their theory is that mobile phone signals and WiFi are causing bees to stop making honey and queen bees to stop laying eggs. You can read the latest developments in this article:
Mobile Phones Cause Honey Bee Decline
What do you think?
What's YOUR Theory?
Why do you think the bee population is in decline? Vote here now!
Why are bee populations declining?
How to Save the Bees
When the honey bee started to disappear in America back in 2007, the problem was labelled 'Colony Collapse Disorder'. Bees were leaving their hives and not coming back - one reason why people started to think that mobile phone waves were confusing their internal homing signal. But in actual fact, the abandoned hives were found to be full of disease, to the extent that no other bees or insects were taking over the hives, which is what normally happens.
Bees who had been left behind were studied by scientists and found to be infected with most strains of disease known to infect them, some with all of the diseases in one poor bee. So what is causing this bee epidemic, and can anything be done? Environmental campaigners blame the increased use of genetically modified crops and chemical pesticides, which they say is breaking down the immune system of the bees, leaving them open to disease and death.
Whether this is true or not, it is a strong argument against the case of introducing genetically modified crops. How do we know what long-term effects they are going to have on the world around them? While it might not initially seem significant that they alter the genetics of an insect or two, think about it in more depth. The delicate balance of nature has evolved perfectly for every living thing to have its place - if insects disappear, then birds start to disappear. If bees disappear, then plants start to disappear. Everything has a knock-on effect, because everything is part of the food chain.
The same is true of the decline happening in the UK, too. According to 2009 news reports, UK bees have declined by 10-15% in the last two years. Again, disease and colony collapse disorder is blamed, along with climate change in weather conditions, and more significantly for us, lack of habitat across the country.
Okay, you're thinking, but what does this have to do with me? Well, aside from getting involved with an environmental charity and helping to campaign against pesticides and GM, there is plenty that people can do in their back garden to help bees. The lack of decent habitat for bees is something that everyone can do something about. You don't have to plant an entire wildflower meadow, although if you have the space, then you will be doing nature and mankind a huge service. But simple, small things like planting species such as lavender and buddleia, which are hugely attractive to bees and butterflies, can help. We have no shortage of bees in our front garden, there are at least 20 at any given time just on the lavender bushes in the front border! Even if you don't have a garden, you can grow a lavender plant in a pot and put it on your doorstep, balcony or in a windowbox.
You can also go one step further and buy a special bee house or nesting box, to place in the garden. Or simply create bee-friendly areas such as a pile of rotting logs with lots of nooks and crannies to crawl into. There are many kits designed to attract species such as the Red Mason Bee. Most of these species that the kits attract are non-swarming bees, which are friendly and don't generally sting.
The Bumble Bee Nester
The Wildlife World Bumble Bee Nester is constructed from thick durable timber. There is a fully hinged overhanging roof which keeps the nesting bees dry and it can be opened to reveal an internal viewing window.
Vent holes help to provide good air flow and floor runners help lift the box and reduce moisture.
Includes nest material/instructions and excellent Bumble Bee Guide.
Dimensions: 200mm x 300mm x 200mm
Solitary Bee Hive
This Solitary Bee Hive from Wildlife World is perfect for attracting more bees to your garden. It is fully interactive and has individual cell trays so you can keep an eye on any bees using the hive and clean it out when necessary. Once bees come into this hive they will lay eggs, ensuring more will come the next season; thus increasing the number bees year on year.
Comes complete with a laminated guide to Solitary Bees.
It is attractively finished and is made using FSC Certified timber to ensure you aren't just providing a safe and accessible Bee Hive, but are also doing your bit to maintain and protect forests.
Size: 20 x 18 x 16cm
Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly...
Plant the Right Flowers to Attract Bees!
The best thing that we can do to help save bees is provide flowers that they like, particularly between March and October. Flowers that have strong scents, distinctive colours, elaborate petals, and, of course, contain nectar, are most attractive to pollinating insects like bees. It has also been shown that they favour longer-stemmed flowers, as they move about and catch attention.
As well as choosing the right flowers, remember how important it is to provide a NATURAL habitat for the bees. Pesticides, chemical sprays, weed killers... these are all BAD news for bees. Garden organically as much as possible. The more you do this, the more wildlife you will attract, not just in terms of bees, and this is excellent news for everyone!
So, we've already mentioned lavender. This is a well-known bee magnet, along with that other purple beauty, the buddleia. But what else is irresistible to bees? The good news is, lots of plants are, so whatever your tastes and restrictions, you will be able to find something suitable for your garden or windowsill!
Bee-friendly plants include:
Monkshood * Hollyhock * Lavender * Japanese Anemone * Aquilegia * Alyssum * Borage * Cornflower * Cosmos * Globe Artichoke * Teasel * Greater Knapweed * Buddleia * Sea Holly * Geranium * Californian Poppy * Oriental Poppy * Wallflower * Cranesbill * Sunflower * Candytuft * Honesty * Birds Foot Trefoil * Forget-me-not * Apple * Mint * Lupin * Catmint * Love-in-a-mist * Rhododenron * Salvia * Comfrey * Thyme * White Clover
It is plain to see that many of the plants are native wildflowers, which are sadly in decline due to the nature of modern farming. Gone are the wildflower meadows of old, and consequently, planting them in our own gardens is vitally important, not only to protect the plants themselves from extinction, but to provide a habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife that has been lost elsewhere.
Many of the plants are also herbs, so planting a herb garden is another way to benefit both the bees, and yourself!
So why not start planting some bee-friendly plants today?
- They pollinate all our beautiful flowers
- They are the hardworking troopers of the insect world
- Unlike wasps, which sting at random, a bee will only attack you if you REALLY annoy him first
- They make delicious honey!
- The female of the species RULES, literally, as Queen Bee!
Want to Keep Bees?
Really love bees? Want to go one step further than encouraging them to the garden, and actually have a go at keeping them? These books explain how.
Theories on Bee Decline, and How to Help Them
Disappearing Bees: Bad News, or Buzz Off?
Are bees worth all this fuss? Are you worried by the bee decline, or happy to see the back of them? Voice your opinion here!
Bye Bye Bees... Good News or Bad?
Amazing Things About Bees
Bees are amazing creatures, as you can find out from this article Amazing Honey Bee Facts, and fascinating to learn more about. Here are a few book ideas to get you started!
Did you know that it takes about 556 honey bee workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers?
Please leave your comments on this lens or your thoughts on bees here! Thank you!