Why are Bees Dying?
There are several reasons currently leading to the rapid decline of bee numbers. The three most common factors are:
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
The CCD remains one of the biggest phenomenons concerning bee population decline. Currently, there is still no concrete evidence as to why CCD happens and what causes it. Experts believe that it could be down to a number of reasons, including infections caused by Acarapis and Varroa mites, malnutrition, loss of habitat, changing beekeeping habits and the increasing use of pesticides (mainly neonicotinoids).
What Does CCD Cause?
While the reason for CCD is still under debate, we do know how it affects bee colonies. CCD is when large numbers of bees across the continent suddenly go missing from their hive, ultimately disappearing completely. These large scale disappearances have drastic effects on several agriculture crops across the world. From 2007-2013, over 10 million hives were lost as a result of CCD.
Impacts of Industrial Agriculture
Pesticides and industrialisation of agriculture certainly isn’t helping the bees’ cause. These issues lead to the loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitat and an overall lack of forage due to monocultures and bee-killing pesticides. It’s now widely understood that several of the pesticides used in industrial agriculture has seriously negative effects on bees and their colonies.
One of the main issues with some of these pesticides is that they won’t directly kill the bee; instead, the bees that become infected transmit the infection to the hive upon their return.
Erratic weather patterns is also thought to be one of the major causes of bee decline. Climate change is thought to play a large role in CCD, with bee numbers decline at double the normal rate. Several storms followed by drastic and unexpected temperature changes is thought to have had an impact on honeybee colony numbers.
Why are Bees Important?
Across the world, honey bees dominate the pollination charts and have remained the world’s most important pollinator. Bees are responsible for pollinating roughly 1/3 of the food we eat every day. Birds, bats and other insects also play an important role, but bees take most of the responsibility regarding the food we consume on a daily basis.
This is because the majority of fruit and vegetables we require relies on pollination. Such fruits and veggies include:
- Citrus fruit
- Sunflowers (for oil)
The list goes on. Bees play a pivotal role in pollination other commercial crops (including blueberries and almonds), with approximately 80% of US crops thought to be dependent on pollination from bees.
Bees also play a huge role in keeping our cattle alive, namely by pollinating important crops such as alfalfa and clover. Additionally, flax and cotton also rely on pollination of bees.
- Here’s a brief overview of what our life would look like without bees:
- Supermarkets would have half the amount of fruit and vegetables
- We would struggle to sustain a population of 7 billion
- Limited food for cattle would severely impact our meet and dairy industry
- Bees are responsible for around £28 billion a year in crops
Essentially, without bees, we would struggle to sustain our population’s food supply. We recommend you watch the BBC’s documentary on bees: ‘Hive Alive‘ to gain a better understanding on the important of our honey bees.
How to Remove Bees Nest – Safely
Identification – Before you take any action, it’s important to identify what type of bee you’re dealing with. Wasps and hornets, for example, are far more aggressive than bees and therefore, require different removal tactics.
Bees have furry bodies are usually rounder than wasps and hornets. Bees’ nests are made from wax and form a honeycomb formation, whereas wasps and hornets commonly build their nests from mud and wood.
Contact Pest Control Services – DIY methods are often dangerous to both you and the bees, which is why we strongly advise you seek professional assistance when removing a bees’ nest.
Our team understands the importance of conservation when it comes to honey bees. Our experienced beekeepers will safely remove the hive and the bees while causing little to no damage to the hive. We sometimes use swarm boxes to help transport and relocate bees to a safe location.
How to Get Rid of Bees Nest in Wall
If you find your nest is located within a wall, we may need to knock down or remove a small portion of the wall to safely reach the nest. After part of the wall has been removed, we will ensure that safe removal methods are carried out. If we cannot located the queen, successful removal may be jeopardised. HSE-approved pesticides will only be used as a last resort.
How to Help Bees
There are a number of ways you can help protect bees, many of which are very simple. The three most important and easiest of which are:
Protect Bee Habitats
It is now widely understood that one of the biggest threats bees face is the lack of habitat due to the growing industrialisation of our planet. If you do own a garden, lawn or even a small patch of land, try and make it as bee-friendly as possible.
Failing that, you can volunteer to plant a bee garden or create your own habitat corridor with plants rich with nectar. Fortunately, you do not need a garden or even a large amount of space to accomplish this. By simply planting nectar-based plants and flowers around your neighbourhood and/or house, bees should be attracted. Balconies, street corners and anywhere that would be suitable for planting should make a fine home for a bee colony.
Avoid Using Pesticides
The majority of pesticides and man-made synthetics are harmful to bees. Not only will these pesticides deter bees, but if they do decide to pollinate your crops, they will likely die, if not become infected and spread this to their nest, leading to colony losses.
If you do feel the need to treat your garden, there are a number of organic and HSE-approved pesticides that will not harm or endanger the heath of the bees. In addition to this, make sure you apply the pollinators at night, or when bees are least active.
If you decide not to use organic pollinators, you can purchase insects to help quell number without endangering the bees’ lives (praying mantises and ladybugs are often common choices).
Create a Bee-Friendly Garden
Planting flowers and plants that help feed bees is always going to help. We’ve outlined a few key tips to remember when planting your bee garden. The process is very simple and shouldn’t cost too much either:
- When choosing your plants and flowers, choose nectar-high choices (gladiolus, honeysuckle, foxglove, rhododendron etc).
- Avoid double flowers as these lack pollen
- Focus on your planting technique; specifically, planting flowers in patches. Bees usually focus on one plant at a time.
- Make room for a plot or an area for ground-nesting bees
If you are looking for the best pollen and nectar plants for bees, take a look at this bee and plant guide for more information.
Trees Help Bees
Trees are just as important as plants when it comes to pollination. Newly bloomed trees provides hundreds if not thousands of blossoms for bees to feed on. Unlike plants, trees also provide perfect habitation minerals and bees can also build their nests around them.
Trees make for great shelters for honeybee colonies, and tree leaves and resin are renowned for being good nesting material.
Create a Bee Bath
This is one of the simplest additions to your lawn and/or garden. Bee baths help bees re-hydrate during their busy summer pollinating. All you need is a bird bath (or any large, shallow base). Simply fill the bath with water and scatter some rocks, stones and pebbles inside. The rocks act as a platform to help the bees drink water.
House Solitary Bees
Many people aren’t aware that most bees are solitary insects. In fact, it’s thought that as much as 70% of bees live underground and 30% live within holes inside trees. It is for this reason that you should consider leaving some of your garden free for bee living space. You can either design your own bee condo or buy ready-made designs online.
We Remove Bees Safely
AMES have over 30 years’ experience safely relocating bees across the UK. Our humane methods ensure that all bees we remove are transported to a safe area to continue their important jobs for our planet.
If you’re struggle with a beehive, or you think you may have a swarming problem, please get in touch with us immediately. Never try and and aggressively remove a bees nest, this will not only put you in danger but bees are now classified as an endangered species (in some areas).