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By: Victoria Etchepareborda
We can’t live without bees. Here are three easy ways to save them!
t’s become a common environmental issue now that we are losing the world’s bee population. Documentaries like “More than honey” have been spreading awareness about this problem, but we are far from the solution. The documentary states that 1/3 of what we eat comes from the hard work of bees, so how can we reverse this trend? There are many ways to save the bees, read on to know how you can.
It all starts with bees, they are the key of agriculture and yet we neglect them in the process. Imagine a world with no cherries, carrots, pears, watermelons, nuts, apples, potatoes, oranges, avocados (really?). The list goes on and on!
THE CAUSES OF BEE DEATHS:
- Unfortunately, some of the causes of this mass extinction are rooted in the way humans practice agriculture. One of the main causes of deaths are the pesticides that we use to fertilize our crops. They are known to kill bee populations, but the industry has no interest in stopping the use of these chemicals. Plus, many of them are also detrimental to our own health !
- Some harmful parasites seem to be invading the beehives. The Varroa Destructor is a small mite that reproduces and feeds entirely off the bees and their larvae. Although beekeepers are trying to find organic and safe ways to get rid of the Varroa, once they penetrate the hive, there is usually no hope left for the honeybees.
- As humans we are also a great part of the problem. Our rural areas are becoming smaller, fields are disappearing and human activity causes a lot of stress to the bees. They often starve because their food is becoming scarce and of course they are suffering from global warming, specially the cold winters.
THE BEEKEEPER STANDS BETWEEN HUMANS AND EXTINCTION
There is positive news: you can help !
Beekeepers are the only ones standing between us and this dangerous extinction, which is why they need our help. It is very difficult for them to make a living solely on honey, so most of the time, they have to do it for leisure and it is even more difficult to manage multiple hives in such little time. It’s a vicious cycle. So here are the three ways you can help:
HELP FROM HOME
1. Buy honey from local artisans
We, as consumers, need to support these local artisans and buy honey directly from them. It is easy to find local beekeepers around your town and if you live in a big city, organic stores often offer local honeys. In Geneva, there is a great project that offers natural honey from our beautiful region. Stéphanie Vuadens, the creator of this project, encourages individuals and companies to sponsor a bee-hive to increase the bee population in the Geneva area.
2. Don’t be fooled by “organic” honey
Supermarkets often label honey as “organic” although they source it from multiple countries and colonies. This honey is not only detrimental for your health but also for the environment. Industrial honey-making is usually mass produced and therefore the bees are transported from field to field in large trucks, which has nothing to do with the traditional and natural harvest. Plus, it is very difficult to offer organic honey, since the bees can easily pollinate farther than the organic fields into the nearby chemical-laden plantations. Health wise, honey that has been heated or transformed will not offer the benefits that it is famous for. If you really want to cure that sore throat, only consume honey labeled “non heated” and “non transformed”. That liquid honey from the teddy bear-shaped bottle won’t do the trick, sorry !
3. Eat organic as much as you can
Fertilised fields and pesticides are a big problem that is hindering the survival of the bees, already battling Varroas and cold temperatures. Militating in favor of a more natural and safe way to practice agriculture is an important step for our health and our bees. Okay, organic produce and goods are a bit more expensive at the end of the month but it is worth it, and our children will thank us for it.
IN THE FIELD IN CHILE
One of our partner NGO’s focuses on protecting the San Juan de Piche sanctuary in Chile, saving huge portions of land from the mining industries. The Robles de Cantillana foundation owns a sanctuary that protects a great variety of trees and animals, including 75 endemic types of bees that make the best local honey. They have great volunteer programs if you are working in the field of geography, geology, biology, environment, veterinary medicine or ecology and you want to help in their scientific research.