Tuesday, December 10, 2013
A Concern for the Bumble Bee
Everyday, it seems that we hear something about the honeybee and colony collapse. However, wild "native bees", aka the bumble bee is a vital pollinator responsible for pollinating wild flowers and many crops (even in places where the European honey bee is present). It seems that like the honey bee, these wild bees seem to be in peril as well. In Vermont, of the 15 different species of bumble bees, 3 have gone extinct (with 1 or 2 more in decline). The culprit, most likely a harmful parasite imported from Europe and, you guessed it....PESTICIDES!
“Neonicotinoid pesticides are particularly dangerous to bees because plants absorb them through the roots, rendering all plant parts toxic to insects,” said Leif Richardson, an entomologist at Dartmouth College and co-author of the upcoming Guide to Bumble Bees of North America. ”This includes pollen and nectar, essential components of the bee diet.”
So what are the consequences? Most obviously, the loss to agriculture. About 1/3 of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. The feeding of livestock with alfalfa, legumes, and clover. There is the loss of wild plants, which effects the wildlife dependent on them for food. Many plants could become endangered due to the decline of their native pollinators. And let's not forget the economic cost.
Encourage native bees to your backyard by providing an inviting habitat. Leave hedgerows and do not clear cut hardwood tress for pine plantings. Provide ongoing food source of native, pollen and nectar producing plants. Opt not to use pesticides. Understand the importance of bees in pollination. If you do have a bee problem, search for someone who will remove/relocate if possible vs destroying