Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Summertime Challenge For City Dwellers: Help The Struggling Bees in the City

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Last year there was media coverage about bumblebees dying in my hometown Oslo, and certain scientists blamed the Common Lime trees planted in the city.1
Bumblebee collecting nectar from my parents' garden in Oslo
Bumblebee collecting nectar from my parents' garden in Oslo

Scientists working at The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) have come up with a new hypothesis. When they fed some half-dead bumblebees nectar from the common lime tree, the bees suddenly came around.2

My point: our wild bees, commercial honey bees and bumblebees are dying, and we don't why.
Poor dead bumblebee in downtown Oslo
Poor dead bumblebee in downtown Oslo

According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), 24% of the bumblebee species in Europe are threatened with extinction.3 The bees in North America have also disappeared at a rapid rate.4

My impression of documentaries and news I've seen and read, is that bees are fragile creatures in the way that they're sensitive to drastic changes in the climate.

I don't want to get into the discussion of why the bees are dying. Not even the scientists are sure. Farming methods, shortage of flowers, pesticides dangerous to bees, and parasites - are all possible sources to the bee deaths all around the world.

One thing is sure though. 

Bees are extremely crucial for our food production, because when the many bee species collect pollen for food and nectar for drink, they're also pollinating the plants and flowers. The bees pollinate plants and flowers that give us blue berries, cranberries, straw berries, cucumber, tomatoes, squash and much, much more.

Picturing yourself making breakfast, and without the bees in the world, it would have been a pretty sad breakfast; no jam, no fruit, no vegetables. 
Trying to save a bumble bee
Trying to save a bumble bee

Last week, me and my boyfriend were heading out to watch the new Jurassic World movie. On the way, my boyfriend commented that there was a dead bumblebee on the street. I stopped and turned around to check if it was really dead.

And to our surprise, it wasn't dead but it was weak and halting.

We decided to try to save it and brought it to a cafe to get some sugar water. I asked them to blend a little sugar in it, because that's what (bumble)bees like - sugar water.

The waitresses looked at me like I was a crazy person, talking about giving sugar water to a bumblebee. The bumblebee managed to walk on its own after it took a zip. Since we were already late for the movies, we didn't have time to observe and make sure that it flew away. On our way home from the cinema, we checked the site and it was gone.

I challenge you to help struggling bees in your city! Help at least one struggling bee this summer :-)

Ways for you to help the (struggling) bees:

1.  If you come across a dying bee (including bumblebees), or maybe it looks confused or needs an extra hand, sugar water will probably help.

Grab a cup, and mix ordinary/organic sugar with water (ratio 2:1 or 3:1).

According to forums I've read, the result should be thicker than water. Find a small dish and put one table spoon of the sugar water on the dish.

Now, place the bee next to the sugar water and wait for it to drink and hopefully fly away.
Bumblebee getting busy
Bumblebee getting busy in our garden

2. Set out bee-friendly plants and herbs in your garden or in your balcony. Examples of bee-friendly plants and herbs are catmint, fleabane, rosemary, hyssop and milkweed.

Check out more bee-friendly plants at Bee Friendly Garden Plants (UK).

3. Avoid or be careful with the use of pesticides on your plants, which can affect the bees negatively. 

According to the environmental organization Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet),5 many pesticides can either kill the bumblebee or weaken their orientation (they need to find their way to the hive).
How to revive struggling bees
How to revive struggling bees


Have your say about what you just read :)

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