Bees are amazing!
It seems that bees are struggling to do their job, due to a variety of reasons – and so scientists are giving them a helping hand.
We all know how important bees are to the survival of the planet, but their population is under attack from different directions, such as pesticides, climate change and the loss of their natural habitats.
Bees are responsible for the pollination of not just flowers but also vegetables, fruit and nuts. In fact, around 75% of all pollination is down to bees, with the rest coming from other insects such as butterflies and wasps (yes, wasps! – I’ve never understood the reason wasps exist before).
Apparently there is a parasitic mite in Europe which has badly affected bees – the aptly named varroa destructor. So all these factors are making the bees’ job harder.
In Israel a company called BloomX has come up with a way to help bees by using a machine that agitates crops – brushing the branches enough to release the pollen into the air. This replicates what bees do with their wings to move the pollen from plant to plant. BloomX has used the machines on avocados and blueberries so far.
They use another device, a handheld tool called the Crossbee, which collects sticky pollen from avocado trees and transfers them to others, helping to increase fruit yields substantially. AI intelligence is used to help monitor which areas of crops have been treated. Technology also identifies when the optimum time is to use the equipment.
But in America a shortage of bees in certain areas has been caused by almond farmers transporting bees from other areas to their fields to aid pollination. If mechanical pollination is used instead, then the bees can stay local and do their job there, avoiding the stress on bee colonies. The transportation of bees results in a high mortality rate so using human intervention must be a good thing.
Another Israeli company has developed a system of collecting and storing pollen, potentially for years without deterioration. It has been applied to fruit and nut trees and does so with great precision. It’s currently being used within the almond fields of America.
Of course, if we could look after the bee population enough then artificial intervention wouldn’t be necessary. Bees have been doing their job for millions of years and are only in trouble because of mankind. Nature has a way of looking after us and we should be looking after it in return, rather than looking at profit and the short-term financial gain.
It’s great that solutions are being found to these problems and are necessary to redress the balance but once again we need to let nature do it’s thing and stop ruining the planet. If we could spend more time restoring the bees’ environment that would help so much more than artificial solutions can.
That’s where we got our name from – “Reverse” – we need to reverse the damage we’ve done to our own environment.
On a small individual scale, we can do our bit by planting wild flowers to attract bees, and if you have an area of garden that has well drained soil in a sunny position, leave it bare as around 70% of bees live underground if the surface conditions are right.
Bees like places to nest like hollow trees, logs and larger stems, so if you are able to leave these in your garden, you’ll provide a home for them.
Bees can get thirsty so by making a shallow water bath for them they’ll be able to take a drink. Fill a bowl of some description with some pebbles, add clean water and keep it topped up for them to take a break from their hard work.
Most of the nectar that bees collect comes from trees – so if you have any in your garden, keep them as they are valuable to the chain. If you’re able to plant any, that will help too – and of course, trees capture carbon so it’s a double whammy for the environment.
Avoid using pesticides in your garden as these are harmful to bees and other insects.
The honey the bees produce can be different in taste from region to region, and in fact eating honey that’s made locally can help with hay fever.
Honey can be used to make soap and candles and by buying any of these products, you are supporting bee farmers, helping them to grow their bee communities and hopefully restore the damage done to them.
And if we all do these things on a small scale, collectively we can make a substantial difference.
So go on, give bees a chance!