Bees for Biodiversity

Written by Ilke
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In our series on biodiversity, we will focus on bees this time. There are two major groups of bees: the honeybees, whom we all know, living in big communities and the solitary bees, less known and with a big variety of species (more on them later).

As you might know, all bees are crucial for humans, because they pollinate: if bees were extinct, it would take human kind another 4 years to disappear as well. The problem is we do not know where the tipping point is in the declining numbers among bees we see today. Even the causes are not always clear. Recent studies show that the general loss of biodiversity is a main factor, the excessive use of chemicals and climate change have all been mentioned in this regard. Hopeful news is reaching us, like the French government announcing a large scale project to plant wild flowers, the thriving of bees in towns, and the raised interest in beehive associations. There are also things you can do!

  1. Keep your garden or balcony free of chemicals;
  2. Plant a big variety of plant species;
  3. Give a piece of your garden/balcony to nature and plant some wild flowers (Sunbeams hands out and sells wild flower seeds, but they are of course also available in the good garden centres);
  4. Buy and grow organic or environmentally friendly as much as you can;
  5. Look for the “forgotten” and domestic species of fruit and vegetables (translations available on our website);
  6. Buy artisanal harvested honey (many minerals and vitamins + a low glycemic value), preferably organic (e.g. no antibiotics);
  7. Contact the local beehive association and get some bees on your property (you can even let them fly up vertically!); they can do the maintenance for you;
  8. Become a beehive keeper yourself;
  9. Ask your school, company or commune to do a project on bees or to install beehives;
  10. Place shelters for solitary bees: easy to make yourself or to order at online shops like www.vivara.be or www.natuurpunt.be;

Did you know bees keep the wasps away? Did you know bees are protected in Belgium? If a nest bothers you, only a beehive keeper is allowed take care of it and remove it.

The Sunbeams Team

This article can be found in the March 2010 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

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