RAYTOWN, Mo. — If there's a bee buzzing around your head, you're almost certain to notice. But have you given any thought to the millions of bees out there right now? Maybe you should.
The bee population is declining. Over the last decade, studies show that the U.S. and Europe have suffered hive losses of at least 30%.
People obviously fear getting stung by a bee, but people can do a lot more harm to them if they don't pay attention to the vital work they do.
“They’re visiting flowers and helping them be more successful,” Erik Messner, co-owner of the Messner Bee Farm in Raytown, said. “(They) bring more seeds, help fruit trees, vegetables and stuff like that grow to help support our food system."
That means that everything you plant this spring can help a bee, or several thousand.
“If you go to your local nursery and you ask what are the native trees here that could help our bee population, they could point you in the right direction,” Rachael Messner, co-owner of Messner Bee Farm, said.
But on a deeper level, people can help by lowering the amount of greenhouse gases they generate, or their carbon footprint.
Cars, electricity, even the food people eat, all factor into a carbon footprint. The average carbon footprint for a person in Kansas City, Missouri, is more than 15 tons. Globally, the average number is closer to four tons.
Though, Kansas City has a goal of being carbon neutral by the year 2040.
The bees can literally feel the difference.
“Higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means lower nutrition for the bees in each pollen source that they visit,” Erik Messner said. “That means that their immune system is weakened, which means that every disease that they could potentially encounter, they’re more susceptible to.”
People can even help bees when they shop for local honey.
“Honey is one of the top three most fraudulent foods that we eat in the U.S.,” Erik Messner said. “So it’s difficult and requires real sleuthing but the best way is a farmer’s market or knowing your local beekeeper.
The brave can take it a step further and try keeping bees themselves. Doing so offers bees a safe place, and gives people a chance to get their own honey. But people need to walk before they can fly.
"My number one piece of advice is to find a mentor first,” Erik Messner said. “And work with him for like a year, because your odds of success are going to go up so fast."
The Messners had a few other tips. They said people can help bees by simply keeping a bird bath so bees have a place to collect water. Using more natural spray on plants as opposed to chemicals can also help.