The reports get more and more threatening every day, portending a genuine doomsday situation when it comes to our world’s honey bees. It seems over a million healthy colonies of bees are dying out each year, and this alarming disappearance has been going on for over a decade. Of course, without bees, we lose our primary pollinators, so plant health degrades and eventually, if it continues, could not be sustained. Life without agriculture just ain’t gonna work. The US Department of Agriculture has called this dire situation “The biggest general threat to our food supply.” There have been some recent clues to the mystery, and a specific class of pesticides seems to be causing, or heavily contributing, to “CCD” (Colony Collapse Disorder). In the United States, these particular pesticides are used in home gardening products as well as on over 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy, and cotton seeds. Germany and France have already ceased use of these pesticides, and we can too. It is a huge concern for all of us, as food scarcity still plagues our world, but for most of us here, in relative comfort, starvation seems remote…crops dying en masse is definitely not the direction we need to be moving. While you research to find out more about pesticide use and advocating for more responsible food growth, consider doing some Bee Volunteering…here are a few project options where you can be of service to the bee community here and abroad (and if you volunteer on-site, you probably get to wear one of those cool beekeeper hoods too!)
Bees 4 Communities/Backyard Bees is an online information clearinghouse for “community hive collaboration” and strengthens communities of bee-lovers and beekeepers, making urban beekeeping viable around the world.
Bees for Development assists beekeepers living in poor and remote areas of the world, lifting them from poverty through beekeeping. They help connect volunteers and international beekeeping projects that are looking for help. They also do and safaris to projects they helm (upcoming safaris are to Trinidad & Tobago and Turkey).
The Great Sunflower Project uses backyard bee volunteers all across North America to be part of the world’s largest citizen scientist project for pollinator conservation. To be part of the project, just plant bee-friendly plants (as per their suggested lists) and observe/count the winged visitors for 15 minutes each day.
Heifer International has beehives and honeybees as part of their giving catalog that truly changes the world. Bees gifted to a family can double agricultural output in community fields (it’s only thirty bucks, and includes training for a family to learn to care for the bees and sustain the positive effects of your gift).
Bees Abroad is based in England, and using indigenous bees in regions around the world, they train and educate communities to keep and support bee populations, build hives, protect, collect and store honey, etc. They have bee projects going (and needing your help and support) in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nepal, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Find out about volunteer opportunities here.