Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Diseases of the Hive – Honeybees get Sick just like we do!

I think everyone can remember a time when you were sick, and you had a parent, grandparent, or friend take care of you to help you get better. Beekeepers take care of their honeybees when they get sick, just like when someone took care of you! Today, I’m going to talk about different honeybee pests and diseases.

This hive as a jar of sugar syrup to make sure the bees
have enough food. 
One way honeybees get sick is when they get a virus. Viruses are a lot like a cold. There’s not much beekeepers can do to treat them; rather, they just try to keep their hives healthy to avoid them. Beekeepers can try to keep their honeybees healthy by making sure they have plenty of honey, pollen, and water, and they can make sure their hive is prepared for the cold winter months. Beekeepers keep a close eye on their bees for any signs of disease, but sometimes even beekeepers who have been keeping bees for many years still have beehives that get sick. One very common pest in the hive is called a mite.

This is a close up picture of a mite.
It's usually only the size of a tip of a
The mite is a parasitic insect that is very tiny – only about the size of a tip of a sewing needle. The mite attaches itself to the honeybee and sucks its blood. Eventually, there are so many mites in every hive that they weaken the colony, and if it isn’t treated, the colony may die. When many of the bees have been attacked by mites, the adult bees in the hive become too weak to take care of the brood. Think of it this way: if your mom and dad were sick, it would be much harder for them to care of you. Thankfully, beekeepers can reduce the number of mites in a beehive by using medications or special equipment.

 A close up picture of a mite on the honeybee's back. 
There are many other diseases that affect honeybees. Beekeepers try to keep their honeybees healthy and avoid disease. It’s important to us, too. Since honeybees get sick, it’s important for us to help the beekeepers who care for the honeybees that pollinate so much of the food that we love. If you want to help honeybees you could plant some honeybee friendly flowers, buy local honey from a beekeeper, or even tell a friend how important they are for us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Help the Honeybees!

Over 100 crops are pollinated by honeybees!

Honeybees are helpful insects. Sure, they make yummy honey for us to enjoy, but they also help to pollinate nearly 1/3 of the foods that we eat every single day. It is our job to make sure that honeybees are healthy so they can continue pollinating in the future. Every person has the power to protect the honeybee! Here are some ways that you can help!

Just like you need to eat a variety of foods to stay healthy and strong, honeybees need to gather nectar and pollen from a wide variety of flowers to maintain their healthy as well! You can help the honeybees by planting more flowers, especially pollinator-friendly kinds. Pollinator-friendly plants contain lots of pollen and nectar for all pollinators, not just honeybees. Once they bloom, you’ll see more honeybees, hummingbirds, and butterflies in your yard, too! Visit for a list of plants that can grow in your area. Here is a video showing how to plant a pollinator garden: 


Pledge to protect honeybees by joining the “Bee Buddies”. This online club is dedicated to teaching kids more about honeybees. By joining, you are promising to protect honeybees in your area. Learn important facts about honeybees and teach your family and friends why it honeybees needs to be helped.

You and your parents can buy local honey at a farmer's market!
The next time you visit your local farmer’s market, pick up a jar of local honey. Not only will you get a taste of all the floral sources in your area, but you’ll also be supporting a beekeeper in your area. You can also consider keeping honeybees yourself; talk to your parents about becoming beekeepers! Having honeybees is an exciting hobby that you will enjoy while knowing that you’re doing your part to help the honeybees in your area.

If this seems like too much work, there is one last thing that you can do. The next time you go to the store to buy ice cream, check out a brand called Häagen-Dazs. A lot of the ingredients in Häagen-Dazs ice cream are pollinated by honeybees. Each year, Häagen-Dazshas pledged to donate money to honeybee research programs to try to find a cure for the mysterious honeybee losses.

So what are you waiting for? Start helping the honeybees today!