Please Help Bumblebees In 2020
Bee Mission would love to help you with some super positive new year's resolutions for 2020 that go beyond what you decide to do for your own well being. Our blog posts this week will focus on what we can do to make a positive impact in the lives of bees in 2020.
All bees, whether honeybees or bumblebees, carpenter bees or leaf cutter bees, need our help. This does not call for us to micro-manage their lives. Instead, if we make smart choices in our own lives these will trickle down to help bees as well.
For instance, we benefit by using less pesticides on our foods, and many of our natural foods begin with flowering plants. So, it makes logical sense not to spray our flowering plants with toxic substances because we know that bees will be sourcing the nectar they offer in exchange for pollination.
Helping bees does not need to be time consuming, expensive, or take you too far out of your way.
What is the added cost of setting up a bee bath, so bees have easy access to the water they need for their own hydration and to carry home to the hive? Read our Garden Bee Bath blog post about setting up a charming bee bath that will delight and inspire you while hydrating your local bees.
And what about setting out some non-sprayed potted flowering plants on your balcony or planting a few flowering seeds in your garden, so bees have the floral diversity they thrive on this coming year?
Take wild bumble bees, for instance. One of their leading challenges is nutritional stress. Bumblebees are attracted to a wide variety of flowering plants. They are non-specific pollinators, drawn to many types of flora, so as you can imagine one of the greatest threats to them globally is having insufficient diversity of nectar and pollen producing plants. These magnificent pollinators are in decline, and this is in large part due to a lack and loss of abundant floral resources in their habitats.
See this amazing super short 1:40-minute long video on bumblebee buzz pollination:
Entomology Today examined how the composition of pollen diet impacts the early nesting success of laboratory-raised bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) queen bees. They provided three different pollen diets to queens and their young nests. Each diet was dominated by a different type of single pollen. The purpose was to see over an 8-week period how long it took the queens to initiate nests, brood count in the nest near the end of the experiment, size and weight of the adults produced from the nest. Results showed a strong impact by pollen diet, with an average 66% fewer later-stage brood found in the nests that had been provided with Cistus pollen Linnaeus (Cistaceae) compared to the predominant Asteraceae pollen.
This suggests that colony development may be delayed by pollen diets that lack certain pollen types, which may delay larval growth, and can even be detrimental in the long run for young nests. This study sheds light on the fact that over time, nutritional stress can negatively impact bumblebee populations because it influences brood production and development at the nest-founding stage of the wild bumble bee colony cycle.
For the good of all bumblebees, and other bees as well, how about planting a targeted garden for them? Bumblebee Conservation Trust suggests, no matter how big or small your garden size is, plant at least 2 bee-friendly flowers, rich in pollen and nectar, for each flowering period of the year. The bee lifecycle is March through October, so choose what flowers then. This ensures a fine pollen supply at vital times, such as when the queen establishes her nest, as the nest grows, while nests produce new queens and males, and when the queen fattens up in preparation for hibernating. For some delightful suggestions, based on whether your garden is shady or sunny, go to this page.
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Katy - Bee Missionary