News / Science & Technology

Bees Are Misunderstood, Experts say

Bees Are Misunderstood, Experts Sayi
|| 0:00:00
X
Arash Arabasadi
June 27, 2012 3:08 PM
Many of us swat or shoo away the buzzing bee that invades so many a summer picnic. But, we may be upsetting a creature with little interest in humans, and many argue that the striped insect is as important to agriculture as soil or sunshine. The United Nations reports that bees pollinate more than 70% of the 100 crop species that provide most of the world’s food. And for reasons ranging from pesticides to a lack of regional plant diversity… the honeybee may be in danger. Arash Arabasadi, of VOA's Persian News Network, reports from Washington.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid