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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs