This week’s blog post is kindly contributed by the beautiful Chelsea Van Rijn from the Trevallan Lifestyle Centre 🙂
Just the word alone, can strike fear into some people. But did you know they are an essential element in the circle of life?????
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Bees pollinate over a third of the food we eat. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in the reproduction of plants, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction or in laymen’s terms: bees help the flowers turn into food.
Unfortunately, bee populations all over the world are declining which in turn is affecting the availability of our food..
The three main causes are believed to be: Genetically Modified Crops (GMOS), chemical pesticide use and habitat loss.
Without getting into a huge debate on GM crops, it is believed one of the main reasons GM crops are leading to colony collapse, is that the flower pollen on GM crops is sterile thus causing the bees become undernourished and die.
Bees generally travel as far as they need to, to get food. It is believed that the highest rate of return is between 6 to7kms away from their hive. If a hive is surrounded by GM crops the hive will die out.
The same goes for pesticides. If pesticides are being sprayed in an area there is a high possibility that the bees will become infected and die out. Home gardeners should note that toxic pesticides meant to kill the bad bugs in our gardens, can actually harm the bees which are so important to our environment and survival.
Over the years, Australia has banned many of these harmful pesticides in home use.
Luckily for us gardeners, there are alternatives. These alternatives are completely organic and don’t harm bees or any other good bugs, but do harm the bad bugs.
The third reason for decline is Habitat Loss. This is brought about by development, abandoned farms, growing crops without leaving habitat for wildlife, and growing gardens without flowers or flowers that are not friendly to pollinators.
Many years ago, I visited Melbourne and it seemed most of the suburban garden centres had a native bee hive in their centre. It was fantastic.
Take a walk around your garden early in the morning. Do you see any bees, native or European? What are they feeding on? I bet it’s not your beetroot leaves or agave leaves!
Growing your own is a brilliant idea, which I highly advocate but don’t forget to mix it up a bit and include some flowers in your edible garden! Or, if you are completely against flowering plants, let some of your vegetables go to flower or plant vegetables that flower, like pumpkin, or get some fruit trees.
We all need to do our bit to keep the bees happy!
Chelsea van Rijn has over 15 years experience in horticulture and is considered an all round expert. Her advice is sought after, especially on her Facebook page’s “Ask it Wednesday”.
She writes a popular newspaper column, a blog and magazine articles, as well as numerous papers across Queensland in print and online.
She is an award winner, winning Queensland’s “ Heather Ramsey Young Leader Award” twice and Trevallan Lifestyle Centre, her family’s business, winning “Queensland Best Small Garden Centre in 2010”.
She is also addicted to aromatherapy, and in 2012 won Perfect Potion’s “Scared Space”. Chelsea’s winning essential oil blend is now stocked worldwide through Perfect Potion and in her shop – Trevallan Lifestyle Centre.
Here are some of the links where you can find Chelsea and her work.