Bees Are Vital For a Healthy Environment and a Health Economy. As Their Numbers Continue To Decline, We Take a Look At What We Can Do For The Bees.
Bees are indicators of a healthy environment, but they’re currently in serious decline. Bees are dying from a variety of factors; pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution and global warming being just some of the causes. The biggest cause of bee decline is the intensification of farming, compounded by the overuse of pesticides, so it seems that to reverse the world bee decline, we need to fix our dysfunctional and destructive agricultural system.
Common sense actions that can restore and protect the world’s bees can be, in the most part, broken down to;
- Banning the use of the seven most dangerous pesticides
- Protect the bees habitats and thereby their health
- Restore ecological and natural forms of agriculture.
The nation of Bhutan, in South Asia, has adopted a 100% organic farming policy, in an effort to stabilise food production, preserve wild habitats and protect their bees. It restores soil nutrients with natural composting systems, avoids soil loss from wind and water erosion and avoids pesticides and chemical fertilisers. In part of this cycle and by restoring bee populations and healthier bees, ecological agriculture and organic farming improves pollination, which in turn improves crop yields. All the while taking advantage of the natural eco system services, water filtration, pollination, oxygen production, and disease and pest control.
The absence of toxic pesticides associated with conventional farming can contribute to increased health and stable populations of bees and butterflies which are essential for the pollination of crops – as well being personally beneficial to our health. 1/3 of the food we eat relies on bee pollination, and often even where a crop is not directly pollinated by a bee, it most likely still benefits from being in an environment in which bees are working due to the increased biodiversity. Without bees, it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion every year to pollinate their crops so it’s clear they are undoubtedly a precious asset to our way of life.
Some steps we can all take to protect our bee community include;
- Buying local honey – this generally contains more of honey’s purported health-giving properties than the commercially manufactured equivalent. It also supports local bee keepers and reduces food miles.
- Have a bee friendly garden – these are important for bees to forage in, so plant native plants such as honeysuckle, wild roses, lavender and foxgloves.
- Buy bee friendly, organic food – organic farming is essential to protecting bees, and will only continue to grow if people continue to buy organic food. Organic farmland creates a healthy environment and better quality products for our consumption, grown as nature intended them.