by Liz Koch
Honeybees, appreciated for pollinating flowering plants and trees, play an important role in keeping the abundance of nuts, vegetables, and fruits available locally and around the globe. Cornell University estimates that one third of all the food we consume comes from crops pollinated by honeybees. Bees not only pollinate flowers, but they also produce wonderful super foods including honey and pollen that are both yummy and nutritionally rich.
“It is estimated that it takes 10,000 flowers to produce one teaspoon of honey,” says our local beekeeper Anthony Tomasso who keeps Way of Life supplied with natural remedies, such as his fabulous propolis honey syrup.
Some experts suggest that bees represent the “canary in the coalmine syndrome,” which lets us know something is not right in our neighborhoods long before we detect the problem in ourselves. The disappearance of bees is being studied across the globe and some strong indications for what may be happening include: enzyme deficiencies, mites, work related stress, electromagnetic disorientation from cell phone tower influences, and systemic pesticides.
Although there may be many reasons for the disappearance and collapse of beehives there are two important things each of us can do to help protect our local wild bees.
Tomasso suggests making your garden a safe haven for honeybees and encouraging our local parks and schools to do the same. By planting a variety of bee-loving plants, you supply food, water, and protection. This is easy to do in our Mediterranean climate where bee-loving sages and lavenders flourish. Check your local garden store for a full list of bee-loving plants and try to plant more than one type as a mono-cultured diet is considered a major stressor for bees as well as for humans.
Equally important, eliminate the use of weed and insect pesticides and encourage local parks, churches, and schools to do the same. Bees usually stay away from toxic substances; however, with the recent shift to systemic weed killers there is a growing danger that bees have no choice but to be exposed to the nerve toxins and endocrine disruptors associated with all systemic products. Rather than be directly exposed, systemic weed-killers stay inside the plant and flowers. Once considered to be a less toxic option, hormonal disruptors are proving to be even more dangerous to not only bees, but also to bats, birds, pets, and humans.
Safekeeping bees not only helps protect all backyard wildlife but helps maintain an abundant supply of bee products for your benefit. Super food bee pollen for example is a rich source of amino acids, providing the raw materials required for normal neurotransmitter production. Easy to store in your freezer, a pinch a day offers a super nutritious supplement. Bee products also provide natural remedies for common colds, allergies, skin rashes, and burns. Those busy bees give us so much and now it’s time for us to give back.