Bug of the Month: Bees

People probably couldn’t live without bees. Approximately 90 percent of all flowering plants require pollination to survive.

In the agricultural industry, a third of pollination is accomplished by honey bees. Among the plants that depend on honey bee pollination are almonds, carrots, melons, apricots, cherries, pears, apples, avocados and blueberries. Meat, milk and cheese products are reliant on the pollinated crops that livestock eat.

Unfortunately, many bees are disappearing—a 30 percent decline has been cited in recent years. Scientists have linked a constellation of factors, including pesticides, parasites and viruses, to adverse effects on bees, including colony collapse disorder. Some have said that pesticides (neonicotinoids) are a main culprit, and many European countries have banned neonicotinoids to safeguard bees’ health.

About one percent of the human population is extremely allergic to bee stings. Away from their nests, bees rarely sting unless stepped on or threatened. Near their hives, however, bees will defend their home. You can minimize the chance of bee stings by not wearing perfume or scented products.

If bees are entering and exiting from a hole in your house, you may have a colony. Call a beekeeper or a reputable pest control company to confirm and get rid of them. Be sure to insist that they use the least toxic method. For more bee information, please visit www.beyondpesticides.org.

Barry Zucker

Barry Zucker is executive director of Beyond Pesticides Ohio.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 11:10 AM, 08.06.2012