Busy bees happily pollinate many crops nationwide. California’s almonds and Maine’s blueberries are some of the delicious and nutritious crops Americans enjoy. The almond crop is a critical source that food growers and bees depend on for survival. Beekeepers have a unique pulse on our nation’s agricultural activity, and the climate crisis has many concerned and working diligently to save starving bees.
Storms, Droughts, and Extreme Weather Adversely Affect Bees
Storms, droughts, and fires take their toll on bees, directly affecting crop yields. Drying rivers clog up harvesting and shipments, delaying several products and increasing costs to producers and, of course, the consumer. Hurricanes that blast the southern states drown and crush beehives by the hundreds of thousands. Extreme weather conditions are leaving the bees lucky enough to survive (or are they?) starving in parts of the nation, and beekeepers are concerned.
Ecosystem Flipped Upside Down
The ecosystem is flipped upside down with storms and weather extremes. This last season devastated Florida’s lucrative pepper bloom crops, which are a primary source of the upcoming fall’s nectar. So, beekeepers again face the challenge of providing for bees that will need more food sources than there are available. The pepper tree is responsible for many of the fresh bees that are shipped to California in February. More than 130 fruits and vegetables depend on bee pollination following a successful almond crop in February.
Pepper Tree Stress Blooms Trick Bees
The pepper tree will create a bloom before it dies, which many call the stress bloom. Sadly, for hungry bees, they are attracted to the pepper tree blooms, but there is nothing nutritional for them to use as food. Bees, in survival mode, began to enter other hives and try to take their food.
Beekeepers considered this desperate act of robbing another hive a cry for help, indicating a need for intervention. Since bees are experiencing a lack of food sources, many beekeepers are doing their part to provide supplemental sources. Beekeepers have offered bees sugar water and corn syrup as a way to help them survive for now, but this is not sustainable energy for bees. These sweet solutions are like offering a child a candy bar. It may help in the short term but can have longer-term adverse effects and is not a stable energy source. The food sources bees gather from going plant to plant have other nutritional properties that bees need to survive.
Pollinator Relief Efforts
Americans have once again stepped up to the plate and come together for a common cause. In addition to relief efforts for people and pets, pollinators found relief from deferral aid. Donations of bee food have been offered free from Greater Good Charities. The extension of relief efforts to pollinators comes from a true understanding of where the other relief food provided to people and pets comes from.
Beekeepers not only watched their hive numbers shrink in 2022 but extreme weather and storms left broken beekeeping equipment scattered across the nation. The total extent of the damage from such a tragic year may never be known. Still, the loss is undeniable, and already food production is planning for a shortage.
Bees Need Human Protection
The continued efforts of state, federal, and local groups to elevate the importance of caring for bees indicate people’s willingness to provide protection and support for pollinators. The dramatic and rapid altering of the world’s climate does not give bees the time they need to adapt. Many beekeepers walk the fine line of aiding but not intervening. Too much intervention is known to affect the colonies’ ability to adapt to adversity. Still, desperate and concerned beekeepers are doing their best to help those bees that are left have the highest chance of survival.
Education about the human footprint on pollinators (urban development, deforestation, and emissions) and overuse of toxic pesticides is a high priority for those hoping for longer-term solutions to help the bees survive. Other concerned bee enthusiasts have sprung up countless backyard colonies, which help by adding pockets of pollinators. Still, the abundance of new hives also comes with risks if not adequately cared for. Ask a local beekeeper and find out how you can help the bee crisis our nation is facing. If you live in Southern California and have questions about bees, beekeeping, safe pest control, local efforts to save the bees, or need a hive relocated, contact DTek for more information.
Collectively, people can counter some of the devastation bees experienced in 2022. Everyone is holding their breath for a milder year in 2023 as far as storms, droughts, and extreme weather. However, whatever comes, one can be confident that those involved now will only become more invested, and spreading the word can get more people engaged in a greater and more impactful effort.