There are several factors scientists are exploring, including: changes in landscape, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), parasites, pesticides and seasonal obstacles, such as drought, too much rain and long, daunting winters.
“It was a hard winter for honeybees in the Twin Cities,” writes one columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota. “In addition to my colony’s collapse in November, I learned from the Bee Squad recently that 50 percent of the colonies they managed died over the winter. Fifty percent. Sound the alarm.”
One way to help honey bees emerge from the cold of winter is to plant ample foliage around your home, or on your property.
“Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage,” writes Queen of the Sun.
Urbanization and Bee Deaths
Our landscape is changing every day. That means pruned rose bushes and azaleas proudly lining immaculate lawns are becoming an all to sparse and infrequent image.
“Bees are losing habitat all around the world due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, pristine green (but flower-barren) sprawling suburban lawns and from the destruction of native landscapes,” writes Queen of the Sun.
Many people are deciding to root themselves in urban areas, as opposed to rural spaces with ample yards and room for gardening.
“The world has experienced unprecedented urban growth in recent decades,” reports the Population Reference Bureau. “In 2008, for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. There were more than 400 cities over 1 million and 19 over 10 million.”
According to Wayne Esaias, a hive owner and researcher, urbanization may play a large role in the vitality of honey bees. Urbanization can affect an areas climate, explains Esias, which can in turn play a role in earlier rates of flowering plants and trees.
“Esaias thinks that urbanization is mostly responsible for the changes in flower,” writes the Earth Observatory, a group of NASA.
“Urbanization creates a heat island,” Earth Observatory authors explain. “An area where surface temperatures are much higher than surrounding rural areas. Pavement, less soil moisture, air pollution, and heat generated by energy use conspire to raise the city temperatures as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) over surrounding areas. As cities get bigger, the urban heat island expands, too.”
“As temperatures rise, spring comes earlier. Earlier leaf emergence and flowring have been observed in numerous cities across the world.”
While the need to expand and live in a communal urban utopia seems to be a common desire shared by many, one question remains: How will our actions reflect the future health of our nation’s agriculture and honeybees.