Won’t You Help the Bees, Please?

Apr 14, 2018 by

Bees are one of the most intriguing living creatures in the world. These colorful, flying insects are essential to the well-being of man and to the survival of countless plant and animal species. Read on for a few of the top reasons we need bees and what you can do to encourage these precocious pollinators to populate your principality.

Bees are important in the pollination process. As flowers bloom, bees collect nectar and pick up pollen on their feet and wings. This pollen is then spread from one flower to the next, encouraging reproduction. Without bees, we would not have many of the seeds, berries, fruits, and nuts that man has come to rely on. Fox News reports that oranges, onions, cucumbers, blueberries, and cherries are part of a list of more than a dozen crops that would disappear completely if the bees vanished today.

Honey has medicinal benefits. Honey is the golden, sweet, and sticky substance derived as bees digest and regurgitate plant nectar. But it isn’t simply an additive for tea when you have a cough or sore throat. Raw honey contains antioxidants and flavonoids that may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancers and heart disease. Additionally, honey contains a bee-derived enzyme rendering it a natural antibacterial.The WOUNDS Peer Review Journal released a paper in 2015 stating that, “honey is a biologic wound dressing…” Diabetics may be able to use honey in place of sugar or artificial sweeteners as honey’s exact combination of glucose and fructose encourage healthy blood sugar levels.

Bee pollen is considered a natural superfood and contains all the essential components of life. Young bees rely on bee pollen – the combination of honey and pollen from flowers – for life. Pollen is approximately 40% protein and contains all the essential nutrients humans need to survive. Interestingly, bee pollen cannot be accurately reproduced in the laboratory. Studies have found that the pollen can aid in the recovery of chronic illness, reduce cravings and addictive behaviors, and prevent infectious diseases. Locally-derived bee pollen is also useful in preventing seasonal allergies.

As much as they do for us, we should be greatly concerned that bees have been dying off in record numbers since 2006. The University of Florida explains that colony collapse disorder (CCD) has no singular known cause and is typified by mass and sudden loss. Though CCD is a widespread problem, there are things you can do right in your own backyard to help revitalize your local bee population.

Know what bees are looking for. Bees are quite simple, really. They need two primary things to survive: nectar and pollen. Nectar is the sweet liquid that bees harvest from flowering plants. Pollen is the powdery substance bees pickup as they scavenge for nectar. Providing bees with everything they need to survive and thrive is a simple as planting a garden, or urban garden. Use a variety of colorful flowers – bees are particularly attracted to white, yellow, and shades of blue, purple, and violet.

Use native plants that are attractive to all pollinator insects. Bees, along with bats and butterflies, are attracted to fragrant and colorful blooms. The Royal Horticultural Society UK offers a list of plants that will that attract bees, many of which, including common yarrow, are also native to the United States and bring a touch of elegance to any landscape. Plant in clusters and provide a range of shapes, sizes, and heights throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

While you may not single-handedly save the entire bee population, making small changes, and encouraging the same within your community, will go a long way toward ensuring the survival of this beneficial insect.

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