News / Science & Technology

Bees Are Misunderstood, Experts say

Arash Arabasadi
WASHINGTON -  Many of us swat or shoo away the buzzing bee that invades a summer picnic without realizing that may be upsetting a creature with little interest in human.  Environmentalists argue that the striped insect is as important to agriculture as soil or sunshine.  

According to a United Nations report, bees pollinate more than 70% of the 100 crop species that provide most of the world’s food.  The report says the honeybee may be in danger for reasons ranging from pesticides to a lack of regional plant diversity.  

Be nice to bees, advises Jeff Miller of DCHoneybees.com. Miller says you might not care as much for your dinner if they were not buzzing around your neighborhood.

“If we didn’t have pollinators the only kinds of foods we could eat would be wind-pollinated vegetables such as grasses, grains, grapes things of that nature,” he explains.

Miller's company sells beekeeping supplies.  DCHoneybees.com partnered with the Walker Jones Elementary School to start a community garden - tended by students and local volunteers.

“Well, you can’t talk about urban farming without talking about pollinators any more than you could talk about urban farming without talking about water or sunlight,” notes Miller.

“A lot of the aspects of your life are impacted by the pollination services that honeybees provide,” adds researcher Heidi Wolff, who first surrounded herself with bees as a teenager 13 years ago.  Now she studies them at George Washington University.

“Plants do not thrive without pollination.  They cannot complete their life cycle without pollination.  And bees provide that service,” she explains.

While many people worry about bee stings, both Miller and Wolff say that’s a big misunderstanding.

“These are not aggressive beings. They’re rather gentle," Miller insists.  "We’ve been trying to prove that with our proximity here.”

Miller explains that after a bee stings a person, their stingers fall off and they die.

“It is a little bit of a kamikaze-type situation," he says, "yeah… the reality is: we haven’t had a stinging incident here [in the garden] anyway.”

Miller says bees don’t care too much about people in the first place.

“Bees are just focused on doing their own work.  And they’re not really interested in being bothered by humans," he says.  "They’re not interested in you. They’re just there to collect nectar and pollen and bring it back to the colony.”

Miller says it takes about $400 to start your own hive, but that each one yields about 45 kilograms of honey every year.  However, Wolff cautions would-be amateur beekeepers to do some research first.

“You don’t just want to get a box of bees, throw it somewhere and just hope you figure it out," she says. "That’s when you get problems.  That’s when your neighbors get scared.  That’s when people get stung.”

Wolff adds that bees need all the positive press possible, and that irresponsible beekeepers do more harm than good to the pollination process.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs