Monday, August 20, 2012

Bee Week! - Why Bees are dying off and how we can help.

There has been a lot of press over the past few years about Bees dying off, many theories have been put forward over this time and they seem to be distilling down into a few things working with each other that weaken colonies enough to prevent them surviving.
CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) is where they just disappear, one day the hives are busy with tens of thousands of Bees going about their business, the next day there are only a few baby Bees emerging, dying or dead brood (from getting chilled as no Bees to keep the hive warm inside).

The latest theory about this is that Bees become disorientated when out foraging, can't find their way home they die in the field at night, cold, alone and frightened. This can happen as a result of them absorbing pesticides that contain neonicotinoids which are found on pollen, nectar and the leaves, flowers and stems of plants that have been treated with it.
Studies have shown that Bees exposed to the Neonicotinoids have trouble navigating and aslo learning (including learning the routes from the pollen and nectar sources back home)
some countries have taken the step of banning this chemical and subsequently seen increases in Bee population, specifically France.
A study in which Bees exposed to neonicotinoids found that they were especially vulnerable to the Varroa Destructor, a common Bee parasite. Another study found that neonicotinoids dramatically increase the toxicity of fungicides to the affected Bee population.

The real scary shit is that once this stuff is in the soil it will affect the water quality in the aquifer and will never actually disappear from the bio cycle of the earth and water-table.

What we can do about this.
On a scale of 'really easy' to 'really passionate' here are some things you can do to help.

1. On a small scale these pesticides are also available scarily enough in your local garden centre. So firstly don't buy them, choose something else, read the labels and see whats in it before you hit the checkout. the thing you don't want in there is Imidacloprid

2. If you do see them in the Garden Centre, DIY store, mention it to the person on the floor or ask to see the manager and suggest to them that they stop stocking such a nasty chemical ( there are plenty of other pesticides out there that are Bee friendly and work just fine.
3. Let all your friends and social network know about his step, make others aware that they are contributing to the problem by buying this. 
4. Write to the company responsible here in NZ ask they to reconsider selling this or making it more apparent that this chemical is responsible for declining Bee numbers.
Yates New Zealand,
PO Box 1109,
Auckland 1000.
6. Write to David Carter (Government minister for Primary industry in NZ)or your local MP , Bayer Industries and/or the USDA, urging them to reconsider the viability of this poisonous chemical.
5. Make your garden a bee friendly place - more on this tomorrow.

Further reading.

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