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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More