The Bear is a committed foodie and a shameless do-gooder. When not filling his paw with honey he’s extending it to help others. Today he’s buzzing about three organizations that promote the honeybee. One in every three bites of food we eat are the result of the honeybee’s efforts.
But the honeybee is in trouble. According to Bee Informed, 44% of beekeeper colonies were lost in the United States between 2015 and 2016. The use of some pesticides, colony infestations of the varroa mite, and colony collapse disorder whereby worker bees suddenly disappear all contribute to declining populations.
Bees are super pollinators, increasing the yield of food crops by up to 71%. Three-quarters of the world’s agricultural plant crops are dependent on animal pollinators. The fruits of their tireless labor –honey, bee pollen and propolis (a resin-like material)– have a number of craft, medical and manufacturing applications.
According to WebMD, bee pollen can be consumed for a wide range of benefits, including appetite stimulation, hay fever, mouth sores, bleeding problems, and gastrointestinal issues. WebMD also discusses the historical use of propolis in the healing of wounds, tumors, canker sores, and the supplementation of other medical problems, as well as its use in cosmetics. Beeswax has a wide range of uses, from oiling furniture and a granite polisher to bow string lubricant and lip balm.
The Honeybee Conservancy is a nonprofit engaged in education, outreach, research and the building of bee habitats. Programs include Sponsor-A-Hive, which places buzzing bees in gardens and urban farms that grow produce for schools, senior citizen centers and soup kitchens.
Closer to home, Save Honey Bees, an organization of beekeepers in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, is working to increase the number of healthy hives. They’re all unpaid volunteers using their knowledge and beekeeping experience to support non-commercial bee breeding programs. Want to help? Check out their tips on what you can do around your home to save the bees.
Another nonprofit, the Center for Honeybee Research in Asheville, North Carolina, conducts research looking at the effects of pests on modern agriculture and promotes educational opportunities on the importance of bees in the environment. Spend eight minutes or so viewing the video on their website, What You Can Do to Protect Honeybees.
Interested in raising your own hives? Check out the UofA Division of Agriculture Research and Extension Service www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/beekeeping/
for tips on beekeeping and a schedule of beekeeping classes. There’s even a blog called the Bee Blog.
There’s a similar program at the University of Missouri Extension extension2.missouri.edu/g7600 and the Oklahoma State Beekeepers www.okbees.org offer educational programs and an upcoming spring convention on March 3 in Ardmore.
Clearly honeybees are more than just producers of a natural sweetener. Join The Bear and lets work together to restore wild bee habitats, reduce the use of harmful pesticides and spread the importance of bees to the ecosystems and our daily lives.