The Humble Bee| Ecological Services at its Best

Feb 9th

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One of the first things I plan on doing when we move is to get bees (followed by a milk cow, more chickens and green house). Because of the size of our lot and the proximity of our neighbors, there isn’t a location permissible under local statutes. So, for now I encourage mason bees and wild pollinators, but purchase my honey in bulk at my local co-op.

Bees are incredible creatures. Seriously, insects that fly around and with their magical touch pollinates millions of plants that in turn feed animals and us? That’s some serious do-gooder stuff. Not to mention honey. Oh, how I love honey. The stuff is not only sweet, but possesses a complexity in flavor that can range from fruity to floral to nutty all depending on the plants the bees gather from. Buckwheat honey in particular is one of my favorites.

And then we have to consider the properties of honey itself. You don’t need preservatives with honey – it is a preservative. Its natural anti-bacterial properties makes it a great cure-all for wounds as well as an excellent ingredient choice in home preparations of face of body care. Rarer bee pollen and royal jelly have also proved as nature’s wonder ingredients and increasingly are being respected for their own health benefits.

Without the humble honey bee, mankind faces the loss of these crucial ecological and economic services – a service that bees perform without compensation or in large part recognition. This is why I named this blog Humble Bee Farms and will be the name of our farm one day (I hope soon!).

In a recent article in Conservation Magazine, it’s pointed out that loss of pollinators could have some very damaging effects, including an increase in disease. According to the article, 30-40 percent of the food we eat is the result of the busy little bees. Without this service, we could see a decline in the crops that depend on pollinators – in particular undeveloped nations would be the most impacted, compounding an already problematic issue of under and mal-nutrition. One startling statistic points out that in these undeveloped parts of the world one fifth of child deaths from measles, diarrhea and malaria a vitamin A deficiency is responsible. Children get 69 percent of their vitamin A from consuming fruits and vegetables – a source that would be directly impacted by the decline in bees.

You can read more about this issue in Conservations Magazine’s article here.

As a side note, I recently have read that scientists are working to create “mechanical bees” to address the problem of declining pollinators. More on this later, but I can’t imagine trading a service performed by nature with a patented technology would be the best solution.

Photo Credit:  “Honeybee on succulent flower” is copyright (c) 2008  Christine Majul
and made available under creative commons 2.0