Around the world bees are trying to tell us something important. And that is ~ Humans’ extreme agricultural practices are, without doubt, affecting the pollination practices of bees the world over.
Georgian Triangle is home to hundreds of apple orchards. It is at this time of year when the bees are busy waking up from a long winter. In many areas of Canada, including this area, the decline of the honey bee and other social bee populations has baffled scientists. The result of diminishing bee populations: adverse effects on the environment.
It’s not only bees that are suffering drastic declines in population; it’s also birds, dragonflies and bats. Could this all be related? These mysterious integral insects are telling us something!
In ancient history, as far back as 17,000 years, the Beaver Valley region at the Southern tip of Georgian Bay was covered by a layer of ice over a kilometer thick. “Nature took two million years preparing the Beaver Valley for us,” says Peter deVries from Summerbound Tours in Collingwood. Now, 25% of Ontario apple crops come from this region, an astonishing three million bushels, annually!
In order to produce fruit seeds, pollination must take place. Bees move pollen from the flower’s anther to the stigma in the same flower or another. Many fruit trees do not produce fruit even if they’re self-pollinators. Most of the world’s orchard, horticultural, and forage crops can only produce seeds and fruit if animals such as birds, bats and insects actively transfer pollen from one flower to another within the same species.
In recent years, bees have been decimated by mites and pesticides with many species suffering virtual devastation. “Tightly nestled between the sparkling shores of Georgian Bay and The Niagara Escarpment lays home to more than thirty succulent varieties of apples, including Mcintosh, Ambrosia, Northern Spy, Honey Crisp and the newest Red Prince, to name a few.” states Leslie Huffman of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs. We rely on pollinators to ensure a future for our local apple industry.
Without the honeybee to pollinate, advanced agriculture and civilization wouldn’t have developed. It’s our duty to encourage others to help aid in the protection of our dedicated pollinators before future unwanted scenarios occur.
It came to my attention that the honey bee is not the only important bee for pollination, other bees are significantly important to pollinate, in particular, the orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria). Also know as a solitary bee, it’s the ideal solution to the problem we’re all facing with pollination.
Mason bees are extremely docile and will not sting unless threatened by rough handling. They are also more efficient pollinators than their cousins, the honeybee. Also, it takes fewer mason bees to fully pollinate an area than it would their cousins, the honeybees, to pollinate the vicinity. They are critical to our local ecosystem. Let’s do what we can to protect them.
Attracting and maintaining a Mason Bee population is quite simple. Here’s how you can do it:
Make sure you have plenty of native flowers in your yard, build a nesting box, provide a mud collection site, and you will most likely have success in attracting these incredible insects.
Since we live in Apple Country, it is essential we protect our mysterious and enticing, little insect friends. Allowing bee populations to dwindle away without taking action is not an option. We all must band together and do what we can to re-populate bee populations while enjoying the splendor they provide.
So, what’s the buzz about bees you ask? Now you know.