Honeybees’ search for sweet sustenance results in the pollination of an array of diverse crops that humans heavily rely upon. From apples to almonds, they are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all pollination worldwide, and without their contributions, our food system would look (and taste) quite different. Unfortunately, since 2006 beekeepers have noted colony losses of 30 to 90 percent each year. Researchers have named the phenomenon “bee colony collapse disorder,” or CCD, and point to the widespread use of pesticides, habitat loss and disease as possible factors. The recent rise in genetically engineered crops has been attributed to this disease.
As this dire situation threatens us all, organizations and concerned individuals have begun a solid campaign to rein in bee losses and promote conservation efforts worldwide. At Wedderspoon, we are spearheading a number of initiatives and events to draw awareness to the cause. Firstly, we are participating in National Honey Bee Day, a grassroots campaign to foster education surrounding bee conservation. The event—now in its second year—was on August 20th, 2016. While the campaign culminated in a day’s worth of events nationwide, the movement’s job encompasses the whole year. Its primary goal is to educate the public on beekeeping and the environmental concerns affecting honeybees.
We are thrilled to support the Non-GMO Project in their efforts to improve food transparency and consumer education. Wedderspoon’s Manuka and specialty honeys undergo a rigorous process to gain Non-GMO Project Verification, which examines bees’ feed and flight patterns to ensure the bees are not encountering GMO pollen. Thanks to a moratorium on all genetically engineered food in New Zealand, we are confident in our ability to continue to provide Non-GMO Project Verified honey for years to come.
The cause of CCD is still not fully understood. It could be an elusive disease ravaging populations, bees’ contact with GMO plants, or maybe pesticides are affecting them more strongly than we know. More plausibly, it’s a combination of many factors.
In the meantime, there are a host of things you can do to support bee conservation efforts, wherever your home may be:
- Banning pesticides and chemicals from your garden creates an environment in which pollinators can thrive.
- Just like humans, bees love diversity in their diet! Try to plant a varied selection of plants to supply pollinators with an abundance of pollen and nectar.
- Along with native plant species, plan an herb garden with anything in the mint family, including perennial sages, and allow them to flower to really attract native bee species. Even a window box provides much-needed food for roaming bees!
- Make sure to avoid hybrid plant varieties, as they often do not produce as much nectar or pollen as heirloom varieties!
- Create habitats for wild bees if you have the space – leave branches, bare ground and natural shelters for bees rather than creating landscaped and manicured lawns.
- Choose Non-GMO Project Verified and organic products whenever possible to support those who are also doing their part to help save the bees!
In honor of National Honey Bee Day, Wedderspoon will be giving away three jars of our specialty Beechwood, Dandelion and Rata honeys! To enter, visit our Facebook page here.