All too often I hear people say, “I hate bees” or “why can’t we get rid of all bees.” Well sadly that is now becoming reality. Honey bees were just put on the endangered species list because of the harmful practices done by none other than us, humans. Researchers believe that bees are disappearing due to four factors.
First, global warming completely disrupts the blooming season of plants. This leads to pollinators such as bees not getting the food they need when they come out of hibernation, or emerge after winter.
Second, a relatively new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids are killing off bees in alarming numbers. Although these harmful chemicals are banned in many parts of the world, they are still widely available in the US.
Third, habit loss due to over farming, new developments destroying habitats for wildlife, and the abandoning of farms all have lead to a sharp decline in our bee population. In fact, since 1990 more than 25% of the US bee population has disappeared.
Fourth, parasites such as harmful mites are killing off bees.
Scientists are calling this Colony Collapse Disorder. Why is this a big deal? Good question.
Bees do a lot more than create succulent, golden honey. They are essential in the production of many of our favorite foods. Apples, oranges, lemons, limes, broccoli, onions, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, cantaloupes, carrots, almonds and yes, even avocados have bees to thank. The fact of the matter is, without bees to cross pollinate, many plants including the food crops I just mentioned, would die off. Scary I know. I mean who even wants to imagine a world without avocados, certainly not I.
So you may be wondering, what can be done to fix this? Another great question. Seriously you’re on fire.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC for short, suggests that rewards need to be given to farmers who don’t use pesticides that are harmful to bees and those who make strides to better accommodate bees on their farms. This would minimize the destructive practices on many farms in America. There also needs to be more research done to better understand this growing Colony Collapse Disorder phenomenon. By looking deeper into the roots of this issue, we will be able to better develop a plan to reverse the damage done. As of right now, Integrated pest management, or IPM, is our best bet. IPM techniques minimize pesticide use and risks to bees by promoting the use of insects on farms to kills pests rather than harmful pesticides. For any of this to work however, we need policy makers to take stand and propose legislation that protects our most important pollinator, the honey bee.
THIS IS WHERE WE NEED YOUR HELP
At UConnPIRG we strive for change, but we can’t do it alone. This is why we are so passionate about our Bee Campaign this semester. By bringing the school and community together, we can make a tremendous impact. We are petitioning to make UConn a bee campus. What does that mean exactly? Well, there are seven steps we must take to make this happen.
- Establish a Bee Campus Committee at UConn with the goal of developing a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan. This will include a list of locally native, pollinator-friendly plants and a least toxic IPM plan.
- Host annual campus events to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and to acknowledge the institution’s certification as a BEE CAMPUS USA institution.
- Annually sponsor and track student service-learning projects to enhance pollinator habitats on and off-campus.
- Offer a course and/or workshop on Pollinator Ecology and/or Integrated Pest Management and/or Landscaping for Pollinators and Native Plants.
- Post signage regarding pollinators to educate the campus and community about pollinator-friendly landscaping principles.
- Maintain a web page on or linked to the institution’s website to share our BEE CAMPUS USA news and activities.
- Apply annually for renewal.
We call upon legislators, the media, our student body, our university staff, our community, and our state to act upon this issue. Let’s make a difference! I BEElieve in you!