Please, help save the Bees!
Bees are often dubbed “nature’s chemist” as they play an incredibly significant role in our eco-system and food chain. There are around 20 000 known species of bees which are categorised into seven families; all of which have an important purpose. Bees are responsible for pollination, which in basic terms is a process that involves transferring pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part of the flower (the stigma). It is through this process that a plants’ seeds, nuts or fruit are formed. In essence, bees are the reason we are able to enjoy delectable treats from nature. On the topic of delectable: bees are responsible for creating the undefeated sweetener from nature – HONEY!
The bees from the Apidae family are the honey-making bees – with members such as the honeybee, bumble bee and the carpenter bee. The process the bees undertake to create our favourite, delicious, glossy syrup is an absolutely fascinating and intricate one. The bees collect nectar and use enzymes and a dehydration technique to convert the complex sugar in the nectar into a supersaturated power food of simple sugars, glucose and fructose. It is incredible to think that these relatively small insects are able to perform such complex processes – which are largely for the benefit of our planet. In recent years, the number of bees found globally and the lifespan of these bees has seen a significant decline. As it stands bees are currently under siege and we, humans, are at fault.
Many reports and studies are showing that the extensive use and misuse of the agricultural pesticide Neonicotinoid has adverse effects to the livelihood of our bee species. According to the Public Broadcasting Service, it has been discovered that Neonicotinoid Pesticides are liable for the killing of bees, and that the pesticide also impact the bees’ reproductive abilities. The effects of this pesticide are also linked to causing Colony Collapse Disorder – which is the phenomenon that occurs when the worker bees leave the hive to find pollen and are unable to return to the hive, leaving the queen bee and nurse bees to take care of the hive. Another factor contributing to the decline in the bee population is the ruin of wild habitats. In most areas, natural vegetation is being replaced with unnatural landscaping options which make it difficult for essential insects, especially migratory species such as bees, to thrive.
“No human activity or ingenuity could ever replace the work of bees and yet it is largely taken for granted.” Shane Ganley, Editor of THAT’S FARMING
We have completely ignored the importance of ensuring that the environment we live in is suitable not only for us as humans, but for animals and insects, as well. Unfortunately, not all of the havoc that has been caused through the years is reversible but we do have a choice to inform ourselves and others in order to make better decisions for our future. Organic farming is one such way that we can go about correcting the ills that have been done to our environment and the bees. Applying organic farming practises is far kinder to the bees, and this practise also ensures that we are able to derive raw honey packed with natural goodness.
It is for this very reason that in 2016, African Blessings started an organic farming project.
Did you know? Bees also rely on trees!
Bees actually get most of their nectar from trees. A tree provides a good amount of blossoms to feed on and they provide bees with habitat.
At African Blessings, it is imperative that we take care of the environment we live in so that it can, in turn, take care of our needs for generations to come. We strive to provide a stress-free environment to enable our African bees to truly thrive. Our 300-hectare forest consists of a wide variety of Blue Gum trees that provide pollen and nectar for the majority of the year. The bees on our Farm live in a natural and undisturbed area. We ensure that when we collect the honey from the hives there are minimal disruptions to the bees and their habitat. Our trained honey collectors also ensure that the heat and filtering processes are kept to a minimum, to make sure that our honey retains all of its natural health and healing benefits. The Blue Gum trees produce eucalyptus oil which is present on the pollen and nectar of the tree and adds further health benefits to our jar of raw, golden goodness.
For more information on our African Hive Apiary initiative, please visit https://www.africanblessings.co.za/projects/african-hive-apiary.php.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to help save the bees:
Let some of your grass get back to its roots
Dandelions and clover are bee’s favourite delicacies. Allow a portion of the grass in your yard to grow naturally, without mowing, to promote the growth of these treats for the bees to seek out.
Avoid harmful pesticides
Artificial pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides are really harmful to bees. If you must treat your garden, rather choose organic pesticide options that will not harm them.
Plant a bee-friendly garden
Flowers and trees are important to bees and pollination as a whole. Choose to plant variations to ensure that you have blooming plants all year round. Also, incorporate indigenous plants which attract bees.
Create a bee bath
You can fill a small dish with clean water and arrange pebbles inside the dish so that they stick out of the water and place in the garden. The bees will land on the stones to drink and stay hydrated through our notorious heat waves.
Where possible, support local farmers and resellers who apply organic, sustainable, earth-friendly farming. The produce from these farming methods produce healthier products but are also not harmful to the environment.
Our actions matter and have ripple effects that can often be felt for many years. Let us be considerate of our environment and all that occupy it. The future of our world is in our hands and the time to start making things better in NOW. It is truly up to us to look after it, and to look after each other, including the mightiest and tiniest creatures.