April 27, 2016

Are bees in trouble in Australia?

One of the most asked questions at the markets: are our bees in trouble in Australia? Here is a very brief look at the state of bees at the moment...

The short answer is yes, bees are in trouble. We work with twelve beekeepers in our area,  this year they all have different levels of problems with keeping their bees healthy.

In Australia we currently have two problems: the hive beetle and chemicals used on farms/crops/gardens.

The hive beetle was first discovered in USA (but originally from Africa) in 1996. Sadly it has spread around the world. They were first found in Australia in 2002. Small in size (2-3mm) but a big problem.

Small hive beetle.jpg

The beetle causes damage to the comb and therefore ruins the honey and pollen stored by the bees. If not managed the hive is destroyed and the bees will abandon it due to the loss of all the food and home to raise their colony.

Locally our beekeepers have been ingenious in managing the beetle with all types of traps. Looking to a long-term solution a few are  breeding bees that are better "cleaners" of their hive. That is, when they find the beetle, the bees clean out the effected part of the hive, taking out all the comb affected. This is a better option than using chemicals to eradicate the beetle.

Chemicals are a huge problem:

The second major problem for bees is the use of chemicals in gardens, farms/crops and everywhere in between. The most destructive to bees are pesticides called neonicotinoids.  These attack the bees' immune system so they are effected by a huge range of diseases. This is having a major effect on bees' health, some beekeepers are seeing 50% of their bees dying this year and all say it is the effects of so many chemicals being used.

The world is slowly changing.  The French outright ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was adopted by a narrow majority late on Thursday (21/4/16) by France's National Assembly as part of a draft bill on biodiversity that also contains an additional tax on palm oil.

The measure, however, would not come into effect until Sept. 1, 2018, later than the January 2017 deadline previously proposed by some lawmakers.
News article here: reuters

Although governments across the world seem to start taking action, it is really up to all of us to ensure that our actions don't harm the bees.  If we all do a little bit it adds up to a big bit :)

If you have read any of our other blogs, you know how passionate we are about reducing the amount of chemicals in our world. Our offer of free organic seeds to use in your garden is just one way we try to help.

So, what can you do.

Build a bee friendly environment at home: Time to plant some seeds to give bees more food in your garden, leave a bowl of water out (bird baths or shallow ceramic bowl work well) giving bees another food and water source. It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment (pot plants on the balcony or help in your local community garden) or on a large black of land that you can plant with our free seeds and flowering trees, every little bit helps.

Time for every one of us to make a difference so we can help our biggest pollinator and therefore food producers.

references and photo from Wikipedia.

Photo with bee and flower : Caz D Photography