Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Texas Bees May Be in Trouble
Have you ever spent much time studying or watching bees? I have set in a deer blind and watched bees going about whatever it is they do that time of year but never really known of their importance. I have watched them going from blossom to blossom in the spring and was amazed at the little bright bags of nectar carried on their legs as they fly around. I have swatted at bees that buzzed me and even been stung a few times for getting too close or mashing a bee that I did not know had gotten caught in my hair, back when I had hair. Can you even imagine Texas without bluebonnets and the other wild flowers we so love to see each year? I sure did not realize that without bees Texas would most likely not have all the wildflowers, fruits and vegetables that bees pollinate each year. I can not imagine the effects on our lives and the wildlife of Texas if the bees were no longer a part of the ecosystem. Not only do bees pollinate our native plants but over 500 million dollars worth of crops in Texas each year. I can’t even imagine a Texas without all of the native plants and flowers that are pollinated by bees.
Native bees and domesticated bees are declining in Texas. Not only is development eating up the wild places at an alarming rate but newer and stronger pesticides are being released to be used on crops every year. Some are being used knowing that along with pests they will kill beneficial insects such as bees. Plants and foods are being shipped into Texas from all over the world with pests that will harm or kill many of the insects here. New viruses from unknown sources are showing up and attacking the bees. Entire colonies and hives of bees are being wiped out by something now called “Colony Collapse Disorder”, research is pointing more and more to agribusiness as the culprit with new pesticides along with the chemical coatings they put on seeds which are ending up in pollen and blossoms as a link to the CCD.
I got interested in bees through a friend that was telling me about bees and about beekeeping. I also have an interest in learning some of the old skills and crafts of self sufficiency and passing them on to the following generations. I have decided to start planting native plants that are beneficial to bees and other wildlife along with providing watering sites. During the current drought it so critical for our wildlife to have sources of water, I have heard stories of people finding large numbers of bees and other insects at their pets watering bowls or their kid’s pools in the back yard. As natural water pools, creeks and other sources dry up, all wildlife are seeking sources of water. Try and provide a water site for bees, birds and other wildlife in your area if you can. Think about planting plants that are used by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other wildlife. You can find lists of beneficial native plants online in many places; one to start with is the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. You might even decide to take the next step as I have done and set up a bee hive to attract a wild swarm or purchase a domestic swarm and add back to the declining bee population. I ordered a cedar bee hive and plan on finishing it in linseed oil and beeswax so the look will be natural and it will blend into my yard instead of standing out in the traditional white. We are also planning on having better plants and gardens as we will have great pollinators living right on site. Maybe we will even be able to enjoy a little actual sweetness from our efforts in the form of natural non chemical treated honey. Enjoy the world around you, but reach out and give a helping hand, Wild Ed