Column: Saving the honeybeeMany of us think of bees as pests and we are quick to shoo them away as a nuisance. We often confuse wasps and hornet for honeybees, but they are much different.
By: Cara Lindberg, For the Budgeteer News
Many of us think of bees as pests and we are quick to shoo them away as a nuisance. We often confuse wasps and hornet for honeybees, but they are much different.
What we don’t know is how important these little pollinators are for our livelihood. Bees pollinate the majority of the world’s food crops. That’s right, that little bee, that pest, is responsible for a major part of our eco-system survival — and bees are in trouble.
Locally, there are several groups that are committed to honeybee education and conservation. Ray Lopez, treasurer of the Northeastern Minnesota Beekeepers Association is committed to supporting other beekeepers in our area. He said the group has about 90 members and covers a geographical area from Togo, Minn., to southern Superior, Wis., and Two Harbors to Sandstone. “We have a diverse group,” Lopez said. “We have members who have been beekeeping for over 20 years as well as some members who have yet to start their first hive.”
Why do we need honeybees?
They pollinate! Pollination is a process where pollen is transferred to plants and flowers for fertilization and reproduction. “Bees are important to us because bees pollinate one out of every four foods we eat.
There are many other pollinators out there, but honeybees are the best,” Lopez said.
Unfortunately, we have seen a decrease in bee population in the last decade. This decline is often called colony collapse disorder. Many scientists believe that certain manmade insecticides that are poisonous to bees are responsible for part of the population decline.
“The problem with certain insecticides is that if they’re applied to any part of the plant, even the seed, they work their way into the rest of the plant, even into the pollen and nectar. That’s what makes them so effective, but it also makes them dangerous to bees,” Lopez said.
How the Northland can help stop the population decline
Lopez suggests that we start paying attention to the ingredients in the pesticides we use and talk to our local experts.
“Talk to your greenhouses about what natural or organic products could be used. Support the greenhouses that are bee-friendly, meaning they avoid treating or buying treated plants that are harmful to bees.”
You can even keep your own honeybees in the city of Duluth by purchasing a “Keeping of Honeybees” license. You can buy this license for an annual fee of $10 and can download the application on the city of Duluth’s “Licenses & Permits” page.
The Northeastern Beekeepers Association has an open-door policy for anyone interested in learning about bees and the importance they have on our ecosystem. Beginners are welcome, Lopez said. “We currently have a little over 90 members, ranging from no experience to 25-plus years’ experience.”
Northeastern Minnesota Beekeepers Association meets the fourth Monday of each month at Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet. Doors open at 6 p.m. for “bee talk” and meetings begin at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.nemnbeekeepers.org.
Cara Lindberg is the board president of Sustainable Twin Ports. She lives with her husband in the Duluth area. Cara can be reached at lindberg.cara @gmail.com