Just when you thought you could stop putting your hands over your ears and yelling “LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING” to reports about the decline of American honeybees, out comes Science Now’s report on… the decline of American bumblebees. That’s right, our big, fat, bumbling, buzzing, native pollinators are imperiled as well.
Researchers caught more than 16,000 bumblebees (ouch!) and found that there were far, far fewer specimens of four species of bumblebees that you’d expect—in one case, 96% fewer. It isn’t entirely clear what’s harming the bumblebees, though decreased habitat and a parasite named Nosema bombi may be to blame.
So what is an outdoor enthusiast to do? The world needs pollinators if we’re going to have any fruit, vegetables or nuts to eat—or any flowers to look at, or trees to shade us, or birds, or foxes, or white-tailed deer to decorate the few habitats we’ve left them.
You have two options; you can create more nesting habitat for the bees that are left, or you can encourage other people to do so. If you prefer solitary bees, read the U.S. Department of Agriculture (well, they’re concerned with pollination!) directions for creating native bee habitat and nests.
If you’re partial to more social insects, your mission is clear; buy more honey! Honey harvested in Massachusetts will support your homegrown bees, flowers, opossums etc., so it’s about time for you to check out our fair commonwealth’s winter farmers markets. The Somerville Winter Farmers Market is the closest to Boston proper. It opens this Saturday from 10-2, and guess what! Reseka Apiaries is going to be there. “Apiaries” means “lots of bee stuff.” My guess is that Reseka will be selling honey, not bees per se—unless there’s a researcher putting in a bulk order.