Bees Endangered in the U.S.: How Coloradans Can Help Save Them
Several bee species are now listed as endangered in the United States, and while winter is a tough time for Coloradans to help save them, there are ways we can pitch in to prevent them from becoming extinct.
The Associated Press says 7 Hawaiian bee species were just listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Years of research done by the Xerces Society, state officials, and independent researchers revealed that pollinators native only to Hawaii are disappearing at a faster rate, with threats such as feral pigs, invasive ants and plants, fire, and development especially for coastal areas. Without these bees, some of Hawaii's endangered native plants (pollinated by the bees) could become extinct entirely if these bees were to die off.
Bees across the United States face all sorts of threats, including right here in Northern Colorado. Namely there's colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon where a majority of worker bees in a colony leave behind a queen, food, and a few nurse bees, but completely die off in the process. These disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, however, a massive number of disappearances of western honey bee colonies in 2006 called for extra protection of these insects. Colony collapse disorder is problematic because many agriculture crops all over the world are pollinated by western honey bees, with many farmers relying on bees' work for a successful harvest.
Going into winter, it's a little tough for Coloradans to jump into beekeeping themselves if they haven't already done so. But there are some other ways we can help near and far to protect the bees that almost literally make the world go round.
Locally, you can become a member of or volunteer with the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association. Annual membership costs $20 and goes toward your own education and access to all sorts of beekeeping resources whether you want to become a beekeeper yourself, or just want to help other local beekeepers out. If you know a local beekeeper yourself, you could even reach out to them and ask how you can help them make their colonies thrive. (They may even give you fresh honey!)
Hawaii also has its own beekeeper group, the Hawaii Beekeepers Association. This is similar to the NCBA, but you'd be helping Hawaiian beekeepers protect the species that are endangered. Whether you want to become a member or not, I'm sure sending financial support their way would be very much appreciated.
Other ways to help local bees include looking forward to the springtime. Plan on planting things that bees like, including flowers that are blue, purple, or yellow. Bees also enjoy sage, oregano, lavender, alfalfa, dragonhead, buttercup, goldenrod, and English thyme. Eliminating garden pesticides also helps.
If you're allergic to many of these plants and flowers, remember that bees also need a shallow source of water. Check out this tutorial for a marble bar for honey bees.
Then of course, there's always taking up beekeeping yourself. Winter is the right time to get educated and prepared for the work it takes to maintain a hive (it's actually a very easy hobby). I talked to beekeeping hobbyist, Mark Coleman, earlier this year and he was able to give me a lot of insight into what this fun hobby entails. If you're interested in beekeeping, start by watching this video I shot with Mark.