BEES CONSERVATION: ONE STRATEGY – 3 GOALS

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Being a Lecture delivered to South-West Beekeepers, this 21st of October 2017

by

Felix Olusola Abayomi, Founder, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative

 

Our interest in speaking with you as beekeepers in Nigeria is to protect our bees from facing extinction, so as not to become the case of the Bumblebee in the US, which has been declared officially endangered as well as for Sustainable livelihoods of people that have daily interactions with bees like yourselves.  The threats facing our bee species are the ones that have depleted bumblebee populations in the US. These include loss of habitats, diseases and parasites, pesticides, and climate change. This is a big deal not only for bees but for us as humans, too—after all, bees pollinate a lot of our food.

So, apart from you that are rearing honeybees for the economic value derived from the honey sales, honeybees support a healthy landscape and economy by pollination of wildflowers and crops for farmers.  While improving the scenery of the landscape and crop harvest, people can also sell honey for extra money.

Bees are the longest studied animal in history, going back to prehistoric drawings and sketches and from one of the many studies done in the United States, for example, the economic value of pollination services provided by native insects (mostly bees) is estimated at $12 billion per year. Pollinators include birds, bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, bats and some other mammals. Pollinators are a reminder that in every 100-crop species providing 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.

Improving existing and providing new habitat for pollinators should, therefore, be a major focus for this association and we would be very much willing to partner with you to achieve this. In other words, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative would like to work with the association to implement conservation practices that provide forage for honey bees while enhancing habitat for other pollinators and wildlife and improving the quality of water, air, and soil.

Such conservation Practices includes, voluntarily planting cover crops, planting wildflowers and native grasses in buffers and areas, not in production. Here are eight ways to become pollinators friendly:

  1. We encourage you to look for areas on and around your land that can support native bees.
  2. Once you know where bees are living and foraging, do what you can to protect these resources from disturbance and pesticides and place hives there. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. Until recently, A bee skep had to be destroyed for harvest.  Modern hives allow recycling of the comb from year to year without damage to the bees.
  3. Then, Enhance habitat with flowering plants, pollinator-friendly plants, and additional nest sites. Bees will harvest a long way from the hive, as far as a clock bell can be heard ringing.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Leave dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  6. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat; and
  7. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  8. Conduct Environmental Education for children and adults. In fact, caring for Bees has been found to be a good way for kids to learn responsibility.

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