PROPERTY NEWS - We depend on bees to sustain life as we know it. This is because bees, along with butterflies, birds and beetles, are responsible for pollinating around 70% of all food.
Without bees, we could face dire food shortages. Bees wouldn't pollinate food crops like apples, melons and even grains used to feed cattle, which means that meat and dairy production would significantly decrease.
Why bee populations are declining
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, bee populations are under stress, with declines in colonies reported in Europe, Northern America, Asia and Africa. The Northern Hemisphere has experienced an estimated 45% decrease in bee populations due to monoculture, climate change and pesticide use.
To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face, and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations created World Bee Day, commemorated annually on 20 May.
While South African populations have not decreased this drastically, local bees still face the challenge of habitat degradation.
Urban gardeners can make a difference
Helping bee populations thrive isn't the sole responsibility of farmers. In fact, you don't even need to live in a rural area to do your bit, as The Westin Cape Town Hotel in Cape Town's CBD is proving by opening a bee sanctuary on their rooftop herb garden.
"We believe in ongoing sustainability and responsible usage of resources. As one of many sustainable projects at The Westin, we are encouraging South Africans to take action towards conserving bee habitats," says The Westin general manager, Leon Meyer.
You can also help local honey bees by giving them alternative habitats in urban settings.
Create a bee-friendly space - even if it's only a window box or potted plants on a balcony.
Here are a few tips for creating a bee sanctuary in any environment:
- Create a bee-friendly space - even if it's only a window box or potted plants on a balcony.
- If you have to use pesticides, only use ecological pesticides that are proven not to harm pollinators.
- Plant a bee-friendly garden with plants that attract pollinators like basil, sage, thyme, lavender, watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin.
- Plant indigenous trees that will offer bees a snack, such as African teak, African wattle and apple leaf.
- Provide bees with a shallow water source, like a birdbath or a water feature.
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