Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kids could be key to saving the honeybees

First time ever--seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees have hit the Endangered Species List.

These bees, which resemble small wasps more than regular bees, were able to get to Hawaii on their own, rather than being imported or stowing away on ships, built up colonies and now are in decline. The protected status will help stabilize them.

But what about the honeybee you may see out your window? Like all pollinators around the world, bees are in crisis in the US.

A prominent children's writer, Robbie Shell, has published a book called Bees on the Roof (Amazon).

The story is fiction, but the plight of the bees is real.  The hero, Sam, needs to find a science fair project and save his dad's restaurant. He and three friends raise bees on a roof in NYC. Included in the story is a great deal of info on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is threatening crops relying on pollination by bees. This disorder occurs when the bees in a hive disappear, leaving the queen, food, nurse bees and baby bees with no worker bees to bring nectar back to the hive.

What causes this? Several things. Scientists think, anyway. One is the overuse of pesticides and also the attack of parasites (varroa mites) and other pests. Another factor are zombie flies--which lay their eggs in the bees' abdomens, which then hatch and the larvae eat the bees' brains, creating ZomBees.
These afflicted bees may then fly off and leave the queen.

This book could get your child interested in science in general.

Shell says she first got interested in this when he visited her brother's backyard beehives. When she saw that these incredible creature were in danger of being wiped out, she took action.

Oh--and don't forget--if the bees go, so does a lot of the food we eat.


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