About bees and flowers…
For some time now bees, as well as the problem of bee mortality have been a major media issue. The focus lies on this specific insect species, due to the great importance bees have for humans and agriculture. More than a third of our food is dependent on the pollination of bees. Therefore protecting the bees is not only important to environmentalists but also for agriculture in general.
The causes of bee mortality
The phenomenon of bee mortality (also called Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD) and its causes are still not fully clarified. It is assumed that at least part of it occurs due to the varroa mite, that has been introduced some decades ago. Further causes are the usage of pesticides: right now neonicotinoids are suspected to have a negative influence. Glyphosat, the most widely used pesticide worldwide is also assumed to influence the orientation of bees negatively. On top of that monocultures make it harder for the bees to find wild flowers and herbs.
Horrible future vision: RoboBees
In China humans have already taken on the work that should be done by bees, although it takes a lot of workers to pollinate the huge orchards by hand. At the same time, researchers in Harvard are tinkering on ways to substitute bees with robots. Their vision is that very small drones, the RoboBees, ensure pollination using GPS and artificial intelligence to act like a swarm of bees on the land. Additionally, researchers in Japan carried out initial trials of pollination with a mini quadricopter with horsehair and an ionic gel. Unfortunately, unnatural substitutes are being invented, rather than trying to take care of the problem’s roots.
Healthy bees at Schloss Wartegg
Imelda Senn and Richard Butz from the Schloss Wartegg in Switzerland think about this in a different way: when nature is not balanced anymore, parasites appear which affect the bees and makes them more prone to illnesses. Then merely superficial you can say that the varroa mite is the cause of bee mortality. They try to counteract with their own bee hives: for 15 years now, the Schloss Wartegg has been keeping bees, once a year they harvest the honey. A total of 15 bee hives have their own insect meadow, where different wild flowers blossom all year long. Furthermore, the honeycombs are made of bees wax, hence neither containing preservatives nor toxins.
Godparenthood for bees in the city
Another possibility to give bees a home, are godparenthoods. Even though it might sound paradox at first, for bees, cities are sometimes the better place to live: rooftops and balconies, small gardens and unfertilized flower meadows make sure the bees find enough blossoms during summer. This makes city bees often even healthier than country bees. That’s the approach the Creativhotel Luise in Erlangen has been following, as they are offering a new home to 50,000 bees since spring.
You can also be a godparent for bees yourself when you lease a bee hive. An experienced beekeeper takes care of everything and you receive a jar of honey from your own bee hive every year, while (and that’s truly the best part!) taking responsibility for nature every day!