Environment America hopes to raise awareness about the value of bees by promoting bee-friendly events across the United States. From August 25 to September 4, 2017, BBQs and picnics will feature bee-inspired cuisine and disseminate information on why bees are important as well as the problems they face. To sign up to host an event, click here.
“Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security,” said Dr. Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, chair of the Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination, and Food Production from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. “Their health is directly linked to our own well-being.”
Bees, including honey bees and native bees, pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food. Bees provide an annual added crop value of more than US$15 billion in the United States and between US$235 billion and US$577 billion globally. If healthy bees are present, fruits, vegetables, and other foods reliant on pollination grow more uniformly and with more nutrients, resulting in greater food quantity and food quality.
Beekeepers report an average loss of 30 percent of honey bee colonies each Winter since 2012, and many organizations, including the American Honeybee Protection Agency, focus on their protection. Causes for the decline include climate change, habitat loss, parasites, and increased use of bee-killing pesticides including neonicotinoids.
Researchers at Cornell University found that native bees are two to three-times more effective pollinators than honey bees. However, a study by the Center for Biological Diversity that assessed the status of 4,337 native bees found that more than half were in decline and nearly one in four are imperiled and at an increasing risk of extinction. The study found that agricultural intensification, increased pesticide use, habitat loss, climate change, and urbanization were primary drivers behind the decline in native bees. In early 2017, the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee became the first native bee in North America listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“The growing threat to pollinators, which play an important role in food security, provides another compelling example of how connected people are to our environment, and how deeply entwined our fate is with that of the natural world,” said Achim Steiner, former Executive Director of the U.N. Environment Programme.
The BBQ and picnic events promoted by Environment America run through Labor Day, 2017, but actions to save the bees can be taken year round. Below are 10 actions anyone can take to support the protection of bees.
- Sign up to host a bee-friendly BBQ or picnic with the support of Environment America.
- Watch “A Ghost in the Making,” a documentary on the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee.
- Sign a petition by Environment America to ban bee-killing pesticides.
- Join the Sierra Club’s Pollinator Protection Campaign or the Xerces Society’s Bring Back the Pollinators Campaign.
- Support restaurants in your area that support the protection of bees through the Bee Friendly Food Alliance.
- Talk to your favorite restaurant about joining the Bee Friendly Food Alliance if they are not already a member.
- Join a Bee Sanctuary (BSA), such as Catskill Mountain Honey. Buy a share to support beekeepers and keep part of their harvest.
- Do not use neonicotinoids or other bee-killing pesticides at home.
- Plant a bee-friendly garden.
- Become a beekeeper. Beekeeper groups such as the Back Yard Beekeepers Association provide support and resources for new and beginning beekeepers.