Thinking about bees

Albert Einstein said that if bees vanished the human race would soon follow.

Today I trawled the internet to improve my knowledge about bees, specifically to ask the question why bees are vanishing.

Global loss of bees

It is said that 30% of the global food supply is directly related to the activity of bees, and anything up to 70% of bee populations are dying or vanishing around the world.  It is pointed out that the real impact of loss of bees is only guessed, but it could be even more significant than what is so far known.

The collapse of bee populations appear to be global, and significant in the last 30 years.  Pesticides, parasites and cell phones have all been blamed.  There has been reports of mass deaths of millions of bees inside 24 hours, and nests vanishing within hours, with other bees refusing to rob out the vacated hives.

Looking for answers

Looking for answers one can use an alternative method of identifying the cause of loss of bees, which is to identify those places where they thrive, then ask what is different there to those areas with high bee loss rates.  Amazingly it is the towns and cities where bees seem to do well, creating high yields of honey.  Lots of people are starting to run their own hives, using local “rescued” bees rather than those supplied from commercial sources.

What the success of city bee hives may show

Obviously cell phones have the highest concentration in cities, and appear are not impacting those bees.  Cities also are mostly pesticide free, which looks like the biggest culprit for the devastation of bees.  Since parasites have always been around, it may be something has impacted the bees ability to deal with those parasites rather than the parasites themselves which is the problem.  Another interesting observation is that cities have variety of flowering species in great concentrations compared to the countryside, and its the abundance and variety of flowers that appears to assist in the health of those bees.

Industrial scale beekeeping

In excerpts from a film about the loss of bees some US beekeepers talked about their losses.  In the background scenes I noted that the beekeepers seemed to have located their hives in places that looked desolate with lack of flower variety and water.  In addition these beekeepers move their hives around to assist farmers, travelling on the road for several days, so that obviously the bees are going to be ultra stressed.  In addition I would be unsurprised that the industrial scale crops the bee hives were located to pollinate was the cause of the deaths of the bees, through pesticides, and lack of variety.   I personally was unimpressed with the industrial and commercial ways bees were used, which seemed to lack practical wisdom.

Few bees on my run

As I ran today I gave attention to the flowers and bees in Colchester.  Perhaps it was the wrong time and place, but despite the large variety of flowers there was limited bee activity.  Perhaps I was expecting too much.


11 responses to “Thinking about bees

  1. Interesting research about bees and cities. Thanks for digging that up.

  2. Thanks for this information. Bees are both stressed by each move, and are also affected by pesticides. These days there are also genetically altered crops which have built in pesticides. I’m glad to hear that they are thriving in the cities. Since I have many flowers, both wild and domesticated, I have plenty of bees. No chemicals allowed in my forest. It’s lovely to work in the garden in silence, and listen to the birds and bees. When a bee brushes the back of your hand, it feels like a small piece of velvet has just passed by.

  3. Very interesting and informative! Thank you for sharing Alex!

  4. Hi Alex,
    In relation to your interest in environments that encourage bees, and natural environments in general, you may like this that I came across. I will be using the first photo (the two women sitting in the meadow) in a forthcoming post, but that’s all, so you could use this if you want to.

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