The Buzz on Bees

Submitted by Marlayna Morgan, RVT

A few weeks ago we had a rather unusual visitor come into our clinic. About an inch long, 6 legs, 4 wings, and a whole lot of fluff. I named him Bernard. Bernard the bumblebee. The first time we found him, he sent a staff member screaming to the bathroom! He wasn’t something to be scared of, though, especially in his state. He was flying low and was very easy to catch, so I scooped him up and brought him outside to the bush in front of our building. The next time Bernard came to visit he was doing much worse. Not flying much at all and seemed out of sorts.  I didn’t want to just send him on his way again, he needed help! So I grabbed the raw honey off the shelf and decided to give that a shot. Well he lapped it right up! In the picture you can see him on my thumb licking up the honey. That evening I posted this same picture to social media where it blew up. People were fascinated by this little guy, and apparently with saving the bees.  (article continues below the picture)

Research suggests that 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees. Bees pollinate our crops and our orchards, they bring us the snacks we all enjoy every day. From apples to almonds, our precious coffee, and of course honey. Bees are the only insects that produce food for human consumption, not like those good-for-nothing pesky mosquitoes. So, now we know why we need to #savethebees, but how do we do this?

There are many ways to help our fuzzy buzzing friends! Firstly, bees enjoy diversity, which is why many prefer urban settings. Planting bee friendly flowers and plants like daisies, peonies, lilacs, as well as herbs like mint, thyme, oregano, and chives can help give them the variety they crave. Next, if you have a bee problem, call a beekeeper instead of pest control. Beekeepers will relocate the bees safely rather than use harmful insecticides to kill them. Speaking of insecticides, consider using other alternatives like barriers, crop rotation, or companion plants in your garden. If nothing else, try a low toxicity pesticide. Another bee saving tactic, and a neat craft to do with the kids, is build a bee hotel. There are many different blueprints online for these home away from homes. I’ve included a link to one article below. Finally, keep informed and get involved. Remember these bees can’t speak for themselves.

In the veterinary profession we have recently seen an increase in bee clientele. This is in part because of the new antimicrobial resistance bylaws. Bees are food animals, and as such they need veterinary care. Bee diseases such as American Foulbrood are widespread and can have a devastating effect on hives. American Foulbrood is a bacterial infection that is regularly thwarted by use of preventative action using Tetracycline.Keepers will mix Tetracycline powder with sugar and dust the tops of the hives giving access to the bees below. With the recent bylaw changes, beekeepers will need a VCPR to access these antibiotics. This means we can have a greater role in both getting rid of antimicrobial resistance, and the sustainability of bees. It’s a lot of work, but the bees deserve it! 

Links of interest: 

https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/treating-honey-bees-and-pollinators-what-veterinary-medical-professionals-need-to-know

https://www.cheerios.ca/bringbackthebees/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/the-nature-conservancy-of-canada/bee-our-guest-how-to-build-a-bee-hotel_a_23189810/

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