The importance of the honey bee is not fully recognized by the majority of people and it is, unfortunately, not uncommon to find people killing off hives of bees without any thought as to the consequences. It has been said that “Honey bees are the glue that holds our agricultural system together,” but for the past several years honeybees have been disappearing at an alarming rate throughout the world.
Daphne de Gregory-Maiuolis, proprietor of the Abaco Neem farm, is very concerned as a farmer that the right information is given to the general public as it relates to bees and the importance of bees. Her concern for this problem was recently highlighted when she was called by the Department of Agriculture in Marsh Harbour, since she has hives on her farm, to see if she would be willing to assist persons to relocate hives instead of destroying them.
The Ministry of Agriculture had been reporting that many private citizens were calling with concern regarding the removal or killing of bees. This phone call gave rise to feelings of alarm and an article in Time magazine on the plight of the honeybees heightened her concern even further.
Mrs. de Gregory was told by the Department of Agriculture, Marsh Harbour, that particularly on Grand Bahama people are being led to believe that some of the hives contain Africanized bees. Africanized bees are known colloquially as killer bees. They are some hybrid variety of Western honey bee species produced originally by crossbreeding of African honeybees with various European honeybees. This raised further concern because they do not want people to panic because many of these are not aggressive.
Mrs. De Gregory stresses; “It is very important for the public to understand how vital bees are to our existence and food security.”
Research shows that although many crops are only partially dependent on bee pollination, others, like the almond, cannot get by without it. According to the USDA one third of the food in our diet relies to some extent on bee pollination. Some of the crops which are extremely reliant on bees for pollination include apple, avocado, broccoli, blueberry, onion, cherry, cucumber and celery to name only a few.
“There is a huge shortage of bees in the world,” stated Mrs. De Gregory and consequently farms are being lost because there is no way for the crops to be pollinated. This will lead to a food shortage and the production of laboratory engineered food.
“Some people think that bees are a threat but they do not pose a threat unless they are messed with and will not attack unless attacked,” she stated.
According to a bee specialist in Nassau, Kirk Deleveaux, bees are most active twice a year, in Spring and Fall and there is a large movement of bees at those times. He stated that, fortunately, bees are not declining on such a rapid scale in The Bahamas as they are throughout the rest of the world.
The message he and Mrs. De Gregory want to get out is to “Save the bees”. We need to protect our healthy bees and to this end Mrs. de Gregory wants to strongly promote non chemical farming through the use of natural organic products for fertilizers and pest control. “‘Fertilizers have pesticides in them which affect the reproduction of bees,” she stated.
“It is a most dangerous thing to import bees without going through the Ministry of Agriculture because there is risk for bringing in fungus and other diseased bees. People must be educated and armed,” she stated. Sometimes bees will swarm around a house and make their hives within the roof or walls. If the bees can be attracted to a tree branch to form a hive then they can safely be collected by a beekeeper and transported to his hive but if they build a hive within the roof or walls then there is often no way to get them out without killing them.”
She therefore urges people to seal up all cracks through which bees can get into a home to prevent this problem from happening.