April 20, 2012
Kind News Story: What's Happening to Honeybees?
Honeybees are disappearing, but we can help make sure they don't vanish for good
Yum! It’s the season for juicy watermelon, fresh strawberries, and baskets of blueberries. The next time you enjoy a bite of delicious fruit, thank a honeybee. Without the busy bees, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy these sweet treats. And that’s what has scientists worried.
It’s estimated that since 2006, billions of honeybees worldwide have died. Scientists aren’t sure what is causing whole colonies of bees to disappear. However, they suspect that there isn’t just one reason for what they are calling colony collapse disorder, or CCD. They think that CCD may be caused by a combination of several problems, including habitat loss, viruses, parasites, pesticides, and stress.
Why are bees so important?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one-third of the fruits and vegetables we eat depend on honeybees pollinating our crops.
Pollination happens when a bee visits a flower to sip its nectar. A powdery substance in the flower, called pollen, sticks to the bee’s legs and body. When the bee flies off and lands on another flower, some of the pollen falls onto that flower and a seed starts to grow. From that seed, new plants are born, producing their own fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
If there aren’t enough bees to pollinate crops, there will be fewer of these foods available. That could mean a food shortage or a large increase in the price of our food.
Of course, there are other pollinators. Hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, and wind all help spread pollen. But none do as good of a job as the hard-working bees.
What can be done?
Scientists are working to solve the mystery of colony collapse disorder. In the meantime, you can do your part to help native bees. Have an adult help you with the ideas below.
Create and maintain a bee-friendly habitat in your yard, on a porch, or even in a flowerpot.
Find out when plants bloom. Plan your garden so you will have flowers blooming from spring to autumn. Ask a local nursery for advice.
Keep your garden chemical-free. Choose native plants, which are hardier and easier to grow without pesticides or fertilizers.
Provide a bee bath. Fill a large jar lid with pebbles and then fill the lid with water. Refill the water when necessary.