We’ve all heard of the decline of global bee populations, and the scary fate that comes with that. No bees, no pollination, no plants…no people. In fact, ninety per cent of all flowering plants need pollinators such as the bee to reproduce. This could have drastic
Did you know that there are over 4,000 native species in North America? Many people talk about the decline in honeybee populations; however, honeybees are not native to North America, having been brought over from Europe.
One of the most common species of bumble bee in southern Ontario as recently as the 1980s, rusty-patched bumble bee, is now on the brink of extinction and despite thorough searches across Ontario, not a single one has been observed in Canada since 2009.
Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors—pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming and more. At the local level, pesticide use, habitat loss and increased competition with other species, like the European honeybee, contribute to declines. Biologists have found more than 150 different chemical residues in bee pollen and wild bee habitat shrinks every year as industrial agribusiness converts grasslands and forest into mono-culture farms, which are then contaminated with pesticides.
What does it mean for us?
Diversity in bee populations is essential for our environment and for our own survival. There are many crops that are heavily, or entirely, dependent on bee pollination for reproduction.
Dr Anneke Veenstra, is a senior lecturer at the Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Science in Australia.
‘We could struggle to sustain the global human population,’ she says. ‘If we lost all the plants that honey bees pollinate, the small animals that eat those plants will be negatively impacted resulting in fewer prey species for larger carnivorous animals and so on up the food chain.’ The amount of fresh produce available to us would also change significantly. ‘Walking into a supermarket would be a different experience, you could expect to find half the amount of fruit and vegetables that are available today,’ she says.
How can you help?
- Create a Pollinator-friendly garden! Help reverse the loss of native pollinator habitat on your property by protecting or planting native flowering plants. Aim to have a diversity of plants that flower from spring through fall. Pollination Guelph has curated an excellent list of resources to get you started.
- Build a bee nest out of a recycled milk carton.
- Don’t remove colonies of native bees on your property. Bumble bees are quite docile when undisturbed and usually will only sting when trapped.
- Support organic agriculture.
- Take photos of any bumble bees you see in North America and submit them to bumblebeewatch.org. This will help us locate rare bumble bees and learn more about all Canadian bumble bees.
- Choose alternatives to pesticides or reduce the amount of chemicals you use.
- Shop organic
- Contact your local government office and let them know that you support responsible land use planning that protects and connects natural areas and endangered species habitat
- Report sightings of rare species to your provincial/territorial Conservation Data Centre
- Educate yourself on the reasons why bee populations are declining – parasites, chemical exposure, climate change – and do what you can to minimize these in your community.
- Donate directly to Wildlife Preservation Canada or another organization working to protect native bee species in your region.
I’ve introduced the Save the Bees limited series, not only to bring you stunning jewelry, but to raise awareness about the need for bumble bee conservation and recovery. Wearing each piece will remind you to think about your choices and how they might impact native bumble bees. They will also be amazing conversation starters, giving you the opportunity to share what you’ve learned with others and pass along the message.
For each piece of this collection sold, we will be donating 3% of profits to Wildlife Preservation Canada in support of their Native Pollinator Initiative.