Honey bees are perhaps one of the most crucial critters in our ecosystem, and its our responsibility to ensure their health and protection.
May 20 is the first ever World Bee Day, and August 18 is National Honey Bee Day. Recognized by 115 member states of the United Nations, including the United States, Canada, China, India, and the European Union, World Bee Day raises awareness of bees’ role in supporting global biodiversity and sustainable food production.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USDA Forest Service, honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops every year, and native bees pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants and 75 percent of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States alone.
However, in 2006, scientists and researchers discovered a sharp decline in the number of healthy honey bee colonies. This phenomenon was later referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder. While colony collapse can’t be attributed to one single factor, many researchers believe that an increase in disease, pesticide use, and loss of habitat play a large role in the decline of the honey bee.
As a leading sustainability organization and demonstration facility, Southface established its apiary in 2010 to support the growth of healthy bee populations while showcasing urban beekeeping. You can even get a jar of our Southface honey at the Summer Solstice on June 22.
What You Can Do
As we transition into spring and summer, nectar flows are aplenty and bees are out foraging. This means we should all remain aware of how our actions affect our bee and pollinator friends.
Here are some simple, everyday tips to support bees and other pollinators like bats, butterflies, birds, and more:
- Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides. Incorporate native plants into your landscape and garden, which require less water, fertilizer, and chemical pesticides. However, if you must use pesticides, review the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of options that are reduced risk and organophosphate alternatives.
- Try to buy only fruits and vegetables that are grown and harvested without pesticides or other chemicals.
- Create a pollinator-friendly habitat in your garden. Plant a variety of flowers and plants, including low-maintenance natives, with overlapping blooming periods. This will help ensure pollinators have a continuous source of nectar and pollen.
- Push for a pollinator-friendly habitat at your place of business. Some companies like Delta Air Lines and NPR have even built apiaries on their campuses. You never know what kind of “buzz” a simple ask might generate. For more information on getting your company involved in beekeeping, visit Bee Downtown.
- Adopt a hive. This is a simple yet effective way to advance bee conservation and empower communities.
By protecting our pollinators and bee populations, we ensure that local flora flourishes and sustainable food production continues.
For more information on how you can support bee colonies in the Atlanta area, visit www.facebook.com/beecityatlanta. For information about beekeeping in Atlanta or becoming a beekeeper, visit www.metroatlantabeekeepers.org.