Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do I Hear Bees Buzzing On The Horizon?

Chief bee adviser for Kew Gardens Tony Smith (left) and horticulturalist Alison Smith (right), reintroduce some 20,000 honeybees into two new hives at Kew Gardens Photograph: Katie Collins/PA Photo courtesy of The Guardian

June 16, 2009, Kew Gardens in England was buzzing with activity – 20,000 honeybees were released in a wildflower meadow in Kew Gardens amid much pomp and circumstance.

Why all the ceremony? Honeybees are making a comeback to Kew Gardens as part of Jordans Cereals Big Buzz campaign to encourage people to grow bee-friendly flowers in their gardens.

Jordans Cereals is releasing 20,000 honeybees into two hives marking a return of bees to Kew Gardens after a year without the insects. Usually, environmental issues are put on the back burner of everyone’s life. It is very hard to get the general public engaged in the plight of an endangered species or pollution. However, the humble honey/bumble bee has done it!

The turning point was the pandemic of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). For the first time, this problem was not just affecting isolated areas or only relatively small percentages of the population; this problem was affecting everyone on earth. It also hits us in the breadbasket (literally and figuratively). Honey/bumble bees are the major crop pollinators of the world. Without them, not much gets pollinated: grain, fruit, vegetables, cereals and other foodstuffs all require pollination. When not much gets pollinated, we starve to death along with all the animals on this planet as well.

From The Guardian:
The honeybees at Kew are part of Jordans Cereals' Big Buzz campaign which also includes a give-away of 30,000 bee-friendly lavender and rosemary plants and 5,000 packs of seeds – equivalent to around 35 million wildflowers. The cereal company, which has a nature-friendly farming scheme, is calling on the Highways Agency and local councils to make publicly owned land more bee-friendly and plans to teach children about the value of bees through exhibitions.

Annette Dalton, horticultural manager at Kew Gardens, said: "We want to do our bit to help the British honeybee and we hope this will show visitors to the Gardens the important interaction between plants and insects. Without pollinators like bees, plants would not set seed..."

According to the British government, the honeybee population has fallen by 10%-15% in the last two years; but, a survey of British Beekeepers' Association members suggests losses could have been as high as 30% between November 2007 and March 2008. I hardly think the statistics are very much different in other countries.

Bill Jordan, founder of Jordans, said the relationship between bees and flowers had been damaged and people had to step in and fill the breach: "Bees are so much more than the soundtrack to lazy summer days - they're the most incredible of all nature's pollinators."

Diseases such as the varroa mite have infected hives, killing the bees, while climate change and pesticide use are also possible culprits for the bee decline.

The Haagen-Daz "bee boy" video. You have to watch this video - the bee costumes and the naked knees are too much to miss.

Click here:

Whether you have lots of room like the Obamas or are the owners of a balcony that keeps managing to find room for "just one more" bee-friendly plant, we can all do something to help the bees make their great comeback.

60 Minutes: Why are Honeybees Disappearing? Pt.1

Click here:

60 Minutes: Why are Honeybees Disappearing? Pt.2

Click here:

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