I was having lunch on a patio of a restaurant with a realtor friend of mine in late April. We were happily chatting about the housing market. We care about our industry, our market, our inventory, and above all else- our clients. We enjoyed discussing ways to better serve our community and in the middle of our discussion, a bee buzzed by our heads. My friend swatted at the bee while I continued to eat my sandwich. Our conversation shifted to Maryland weather, the up-coming Preakness, and how nice it was to finally be able to spend time outdoors with our families. The bee flew by us again. It got me thinking and I asked my friend, “Why don’t we see as many bees as we used to?” Flashbacks of spring break in high school popped into my head, the first time I was stung by a bee. My friend began talking about the bee population and how it has been declining, putting bees on an endangered list. Being who I am, I decided that after lunch I would do some research.
I went home and began to study.
Bees pollinate 30% of the food that we eat including: pumpkins, apples, watermelons, coffee, celery, cotton, berries, and other plants that can’t self-pollinate.
While the bee population has been declining nationwide, Maryland has been hit especially hard. In 2016, Mid-Atlantic beekeepers have lost over 56% of their bee colonies, according to the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP). Declining bee populations hasn’t exactly been a secret (have you see the Cheerios bee missing from the box?!), but what has been a little less “public-knowledge” is the reason why.
Due to the increased use of pesticides in the US, bees will go to pollinate plants with pesticides on them and bring the pesticides back to the colony, killing the bees. Even though some of these pesticides claim to be “bee-friendly”, that is not always the case. An example of that would be glyphosate (an example of that being Roundup), which is technically an herbicide, destroys a bee’s ability to find its way back to the hive by impairing their cognitive function. When bees can’t return back to the hive to provide for the rest of the colony, populations will decline. Another type of pesticide that is extremely harmful to bees are neonicotinoids, which severely impact bees immune systems. Maryland was actually the first state to ban neonicotinoids but the bee population hasn’t recovered as quickly.
An assistant professor of entomology at University of Maryland, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, conducted a study that followed 91 different colonies owned by three different beekeepers over the course of an agricultural season. The study focused on three factors: total number of pesticides, number of pesticides that were over the minimum toxicity threshold, and total hazard quotient. The findings in the study were astonishing. 93 different types of pesticides found their way into the colonies, every colony with high levels of pesticides in the colony had lost their queen bee, and that every sample of bee bread (processed pollen) had between 5 and 20 different pesticides which exceeded the toxicity threshold. The team in the study found that bees exposed to pesticides, even in low amounts, were still extremely harmful to bee colonies.
So what can we do?
Be mindful of the Pesticides that we use:
We can stop using pesticides that are known for harming bees (or stop using them completely in our gardens).These pesticides include (but are not limited to): Orthene (acetate), Seven (carbaryl), Diazinon (spectracide), Raid Flying Insect Killer, Ambush, Pounce, Bayer Systemic, and Crossfire. We can spray these pesticides at dawn or dusk when bees are not active: Spinosad, Pyrethrum, and Neem Oil. Some of the less toxic pesticides include: Petroleum-Based Oils, Insecticidal Soap, and Serenade.
To find some other ways to control your “pests” in your garden without harming the bees, check out this article here.
Make your garden Bee-Friendly!
To provide bees with water, simply use a saucer or dish and add about a quarter inch of sand. (I use the clay dish to an old flower pot for my garden). Add water into the dish until a quarter of an inch of water is above the sand. Add some stones or rocks to the dish to keep the bees from drowning. Some of the stones should just reach the top of the water, others can be just beneath the surface.
Cheerios received some online backlash after scientists noticed that the seeds included non-native invasive species. Be mindful of what flowers you use. Also, flowers that are pollinated by bees usually require lots of sunlight, so make sure your garden is in the sun. For my folks in Maryland, I am going to give you a few examples of what to use. For a complete list, go to this link. Some of the flowers you can plant are Asters, Bee Balm, Milkweed, Virginia Bluebells, Blackeyed Susans (my favorite), and Goldenrods.
If you want to learn how to make a bee-box, here is a step-by-step instruction on how to do it.
To bring it full-circle, why does Advantage Title Company care about the bees?
Advantage Title was actually the first title company in Maryland to join the Maryland Green Registry! (We are registered here.) If your current company is not green and you want to join, you can learn how to accomplish that here.
If you are out enjoying an afternoon of building a bee garden, post pictures to Instagram with the tag #beecauseAdvanCares for a chance to win a $100 Home Depot Gift Card. We will pick the winner in July of 2017. Happy Gardening!
National Account Executive