Silence of the Bees
How can you help the bees?

While researchers probe deeper into understanding CCD, or colony collapse disorder, and beekeepers work harder to improve bee health, ordinary citizens can help the honeybee too.

Go Retro — Become a Backyard Beekeeper

Over the years, our diets have increased the demand for a constant stream of all-season fruits and veggies. Such demand hasn’t bypassed the bees. It’s turned bee pollination into a year-round service and beekeeping into a commercial industry. Today, there are half as many beekeepers as there were two decades ago, and the remaining beekeepers are mostly large-scale pollination services with thousands of hives and millions of bees. But there was a time when beekeeping was much more of a hobby than a commercial industry. “Beekeeping is a graying hobby,” says Jeff Pettis of the Dept of Agriculture. Joining the ranks of backyard beekeepers can not only infuse the dying hobby with life, it can strengthen the bee gene pool by adding healthy local bees to the mix.

If you’re interested in becoming a backyard beekeeper, experts recommend starting with a local beekeepers’ association to learn about keeping bees alive and healthy. It’s important that bees are adapted to the local climate, so you’ll want to start with a local source for bees. Aside from contributing to the bee population, just two hives can pollinate an entire mid-sized residential garden. You might just find yourself with a lifelong hobby. For most people, beekeeping grows into a passion.

Get Closer to Nature

 

Backyard gardens can offer a welcome supply of nectar and pollen for honeybees.

If you decide to pass putting on a beekeeper’s suit, merely keeping a backyard bee garden is another good deed you can do for the honeybees. With rapid urban development limiting their foraging habitat, backyard gardens can offer a welcome supply of nectar and pollen for honeybees.

Cultivating plants that will attract bees is the most important task of a bee gardener. Choose flowers that bloom successively over the spring, summer, and fall seasons such as coreopsis, Russian sage, or germander in order to provide pollen and nectar resources to the native bees of all seasons. If you’re not sure what to choose, you can always check with a local garden center for their advice on “bee-friendly” florals. To improve bee visitation, the garden should contain large patches of like flowers planted in close proximity to one another. Diversity is a key factor in keeping bee gardens buzzing. Researchers have found that more bees will be drawn to gardens with ten or more species of attractive plants.

As you diversify your garden, keep part of it wild because bees prefer that to a manicured space. Go for a “planted by nature” effect rather than a perfectly pruned garden. Remember: bees don’t discriminate between weeds and cultivated flowers, so let those dandelions grow.

And of course keep your bee garden free of pesticides — a danger in any garden. Some pesticides can kill the bee before it returns to the hive; other pesticides get carried back and can harm the rest of the hive.

If, after all of your hard work, you’re still not seeing bees in your garden, it’s not a wasted effort. Growing a pesticide-free garden is also good for you if you’re growing fruits and vegetables. Robert Mendela, President of the Backyard Beekeepers Association, says, “Even if there isn’t a hive of honeybees within a couple of miles of your garden, gardening brings the grower closer to nature and closer to realizing that what s/he grows is more nutritious and tasty than the ‘factory-ized,’ perfect, unblemished, and perhaps pesticide-covered” produce.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, buying pesticide-free foods at the market also protects humans and bees from pesticide poisons.

Give the Bees a Voice

“Something the average person can do,” says Mendela, “is to write to their senators and representatives in congress on the federal level and to do the same on the state level to support funding of honeybee research. This support has fallen off over the years.”

The news focus on CCD makes it an ideal time to put pressure on politicians to reinstate laws that used to prevent importing bees into the country and transporting them across state borders.

Large or small, any effort you make to help bees or increase awareness is a step towards healthy bees, healthy crops, and, consequently, healthy humans.

  • Pat McNeil

    I’am off to the garden center to buy bee-friendly florals and plant them anywhere I can find bee
    activity. I was horrified watching the broadcast and my Senator, along with my local officials, will be contacted.

  • Barbara Hayes

    Just enjoyed the Documentary about the plight of the Bee’s. I have a large flower garden tha the bee’s love, and I love to have them. Two years ago they were under my porch, then they went away and I think they are back again. I hope so. Thanks for the very informative program. i will keep updated with PBS

  • Leslie Jenson, Salt Lake, Utah

    Thank you PBS and Doug Schultz for raising awareness of the plight of this truly wonderful and awesome creature. I have fond memories, in my childhood, of my dad in the bee suit. He was a backyard bee keeper. I can’t imagine a world without the honey bee, we are blessed to have them in our presence.

  • Charlie Taylor

    I’m getting bees, planting bee friendly plants and, am worried about all pesticides used by everyone around. Hopefully, more people will do the same. The cause of CCD will be of major concern for me!

  • JORY NEVILLE

    I’ve been following CCD for a while now. I’m not a Bee Keeper but I’ve been interested in bees since I saw a natural bee hive exhibit at the County Fair. The other week I found a honey bee on the ground when I went to check my mail. It was obvious something was wrong. I tried to find a College or University that was involved in the research but couldn’t find any. I then called a local television station and was given the name of the local Bee Keeper Assoc. President. When I called her she said there was now worrries about CCD in our area. The bee died and I through it away. Now I’m worried the bee could have helped in the research but I was waved off by someone ignorant, apathetic or, God forbid, hoping to proffit from CCD.

  • Colleen

    In the past year I have found many dead bees around my house, from honey bees to yellow jackets and carpenter pees. We have a great pesticide free environment. I have been very concerned about this issue and have looked into beekeeping in the past. After watching the documentary, I am going to be more aggressive in finding out how I can keep a hive.

  • Jodie Patterson

    I saw this documentary on PBS today and it opened my eyes to just how amazing these little creatures are, and how life as we know it here on planet earth would not exist without them. I feel so sad that they are disappearing! Your documentary has really prompted me to learn more ,and do all that I can to get involved in raising awareness and helping the bees survive. Thank you.

  • Dawn

    We live in Michigan in an American four square home made out of block and have thousands of honeybees living in the walls of our home. We would like to get rid of them but do not want to kill them and are afraid our whole interior walls will have to be taken down to get to the bees. Does anyone know how the bees in my home can be safely taken somewhere to survive?

  • Mark

    I am a third generation beekeeper living in a primarily suburban area. One of the problems any discussion of becoming a beekeeper must address is local ordnances. In many communities city ordnances prohibit or severely limit beekeeping. Add to that a core misunderstanding of these gorgeous creatures among the public and the novice beekeeper will find themselves and their hives quickly the subject of much attention and controversy. Thank you for this episode. I hope it helps to educate all those who are “frightened of bees” a bit. They are amazing, fascinating and delightfully gentle insects who bless us with gorgeous flowers, plump fruit, beauty, and then honey on top of it all.
    To Dawn: if you have bees in your house call the fire department. Most fire departments have a “swarm list” of beekeepers who will remove bees from your property. You may have to pay to have the walls repaired but the beekeepers should be able to get the bees out. Good luck.
    Thanks again Nature and PBS.

  • Richard Field

    Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Lets hope and pray this doesn’t happen. I’ve contacted both local and federal officials today requesting more money to research CCD as well as federal assistance for the wonderful men and women who are losing their bee’s to this dreadful disease.

  • Elise Beron

    I thoroughly enjoyed this video, and I will contact state and national reps. to ask for more funding to research this terrible problem.
    I am a second grade teacher and will begin teaching about bees in August when we return to school.
    Thank you very much!

  • Helen Peterson

    Taking free beekeeping lessons this summer and helping a neighbor with her old hives means I will be ready to begin with my own hives before next spring….I teach high school biology and I hope that my students will enjoy how I will incorporate this into our lessons. Since many schools are now requiring students to complete community projects before graduation, please involve your local beekeepers in getting students to consider bee gardens or even backyard beekeeping.

  • Renn

    I believe that current beekeeping methods are part of the problem with today’s bee population decline.

    Here’s why… stress = disease (un ease)

    Stress makes any living organism susceptible to diseases by weakening the natural immune system of that living organism. There are bacteria’s and virus’s in our environment, but nature has already given the bees everything they need to fight the bacteria and virus’s off to survive. It is our own fault they are getting sick because have stressed them to death.

    We have stressed and weakened our current bee population by

    #1 cloning queen bees and not letting nature create natural bio diversity.

    #2 building hives that are primarily geared towards honey production and not bee preservation. Using current hive technology stresses the hive. Bees produce honey as their food for winter. If we put them in an environment where their food storage is being taken and we feed them sugar water in the winter it causes major stress on the colony. Sugar water is not a substitute for raw honey. Bee keepers steal the honey from the bees during the summer (stressing the bees to produce more) and feed them sugar water during the winter. If you took away quality food from humans and forced them to eat only fast food, they would get sick and die too.

    #3 moving the hives around the country (and world) on the back of semi trucks and airplanes causes more stress. The hives should be locally kept and not moved to pollinate crops around the country. Moving the hives is just another stress that is making the bee population weak and susceptible to disease.

    #4 Pesticides

    #5 we have over planted massive crops of the same plant in one area. Bees like humans need a diverse diet to stay healthy.

    There are many more factors at play, but I want everyone to know that this is a problem that we created and we can easily solve together. I am aware of solutions to each one of the problems listed above. Antibiotics and anti viral solutions are only temporary patches that take lots of time and money to develop and they will fail in the end. Work with nature and the problem will be resolved.

  • Renn

    I should clarify that I am talking about commercial beekeeping.

  • maceyblue

    Thank you for bringing that up. When i saw the bees crated up for shipping like frieght i couldnt believe it! how can they even keep them alive? Are we as a species actually going to allow agribuisness, pesticide makers , monsanto, KILL OUR PLANET?! I work as a gardener and will join a local bee keeping group to encourage our clients to let us keep bees for their gardens. We are all organic and all of our clients have vegetable gardens. we have bee activity but not crazy with honeybees like it used to be. I wonder are there studies on “organic bees” local not that crazy large scale duh of course its the cloned queens!!! why do they think thats going to be ok?
    thank you for the program getting the story out there showing the populace this horrible situation.
    im gonna get positive and vocal about it create a buzz!!

  • Augustus C. Skamarycz

    I’ve watched “Natures- The Silence of the bee”, and have just read “A Spring without Bees” by Michael Schackler.
    I’ve been keeping bees for the past 43 years, and this has been my worst year.
    I started the spring with 30 hives and installed another 20 packages ( using equipment from deadout and now I only have 22 hive going right now.
    Beekeepers be aware of where your bees are located as if you are near a golf course or farming operation that uses pesticides and most are using IMD. You not only will lose your bees come next spring , but you equipment will be containated with IMD. And when you put new packages into that equipment, those bees will die and/or develop a poor colony and die within two months.
    This material acts just like Penn-Cap M.
    We have to stop the use of all these strong Chemical.

  • oromoctohazen

    I just watched the documentary about bees ( the Silence of the Bees), and am now very concerned. I know that every year the blueberry insustry here imports millions of bees ( I live in New Brunswick, canada), and it always seemed to me to be a great way of allowing diseases to spread quickly over wide areas, while perhaps even causing local populations of bees to somehow loose whatever it was that allowed them to survive the local conditions. I know of one Canadian province ( nova scotia)that prohibts the importation of bees, and perhaps this is not a bad thing.
    The problem of colony colapse seems to be a global one, and with it beeing such an urgent matter, is there much international cooperation in finding the cause and doing something about it, instead of just protecting each countries national interests ?
    I also feel that certain ( not going to mention any names) chemical/ pesticide/ seed producing multinationals should be taken to task for what they do to our world.Maybe they won’t be happy until we are totally dependant on roundup ready soy ( or perhaps geneticaly altered bees that are resistent to ccd and owned by the company).
    It’s also important to teach our kids about bees, etc. , as thier demise will be devestating to us all, and kids need to grow up learning respect for nature.

  • B. Rogers

    I have seen the Silence of the Bees and thought it was a super program and well done ! … This June 2008 I had a feral swarm move into the base of my oak tree. Since then, I have become a backyard Bee-Rancher/Beekeeper. I am doing my part to help out the ladies and they have in return provided me with some of the Largest and Sweetest Blackberries I have ever seen and tasted. Of course the ” ladies ” are doing their part in pollinating the rest of my garden and my neighbors gardens. My Almond crop suffered this years due to missing Bees this year. It was too cold for any Bees to fly too my trees but now that I have several hives now located on my property, next year should be a much better year. Thanks to the Silence of The Bees program, it has opened my eyes and my neighbors eyes to what is taking place on the Planet and in our gardens. I have always been suspect but that show was the proof of the pudding so to speak. I am not so surprised that we “All Knowing” humans have done a huge disservice to the planet in how we live our day to day lives. It is way past high time we started taking better care of this planet or we will get kicked off of it in a very big way and it will not be a very pleasant way when it happens. There is no where else for us to go so we had better get it together very soon and STOP MAKING EXCUSES for why we cannot do it sooner. Sooner is better then later. There becomes a “Breaking Point” where it will become too late to repair the Damage we have done to the Planet as STUPID HUMANS. We are very DANGEROUSLY close to that Breaking Point, in my opinion. I have been doing my small part in reversing any damage I might have contributed over the years. It is very easy to do and for the most part it doesn’t cost any more to do it right then it does to do it WRONG ! … In fact, it cost more to do it WRONG ! … Think about it … The cost to reverse the damage we have done as mindless humans stumbling around this planet has cost us dearly. We could still loose out on this Planet. We are not out of danger yet ! … we could still loose our Honey Bees and all the other pollinators and then what do you think we will be left to eat to survive ? … NOT MUCH ! I think for starts, that Commercial Beekeeping should be required to remain a local business, everywhere. It would cut down on the transmittal of diseases and viruses to start with. It would definitely cut down on fuel costs required for the moving of hundreds of thousands of Bees up and down both the East and West Coasts.Hopefully, it would get more people to become “Local Beekeepers” and provide more local resources and help out local economies. It would also help with “localizing” diseases and viruses, making it a much easier task for those who do the research and testing to see how far and wide problems spread naturally instead of being moved around by ( once again ) stupid humans. Personally, I think everyone has the right to run a business without interference or intrusion by ANY government. … BUT … that all stops when people become too greedy or overstep their boundaries. In a way, I feel commercial Beekeepers have in essence overstepped those boundaries. They have directly contributed to the wide spread problems the Bees now face.

    As the saying goes … ” Think Globally … Act Locally “.

    I can only hope and wish that more people would become Backyard Beekeepers / Bee-Ranchers. It can only do more good then harm and it is both easy and very enjoyable. I love to go out in the evening and sit with my dogs and watch the ladies carrying their loads back to the hives. Its very interesting to see all the different colors of pollen they carry. Its almost like watching the ” Rainbow ” being carried into the hive in little bits and pieces. Like the Bees … I like to stop and smell the flowers !

  • Russ Dean

    In WV the state beekeepers has gotten the WV state legislature involved quite a bit. In past years they’ve help purchase medications for us. Increased the budget to hire more bee inspectors. This year had a cost sharing to purchase packages of honeybees. Now I’m please that PBS aired this program on the internet since I have no other way of seeing it on TV. I hope you will continue to air updates on this important problem.

    WV Beekeeperes webmaster

  • jake mario age 9

    i would like to keep bees ihave an idea of using brown japenese knot weed tied together i am going to try this and hope it will work to save more bees .

  • bambi

    Bees-Honey-Life,,bee

  • Sally Bagby

    I agree with Albert Einstein. Think a bit. Honey bees pollinate only certain flowers on this planet. But if they left the food we humans want/need for survival it would certainly take us down in a few years. Our fruits and veggies would go first and then because of that our meats would go. Our fish would probably be the last but by then we probably wouldn’t be around anyway. Oh well, the human is smart enough to think of a way to keep us going! I’m a backyard beekeeper since April ‘08. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Right now I’m trying to buy flowers to feed the bees so they will feed me but I’m still patiently (?) waiting. My neighor has fruit trees and we’re hoping for fruit next year. I also expect the Agricanized Bees to infiltrate my hive sometime as I live in Arizona but that doesn’t worry me. I don’t even worry about the hive population as I started with 1 package–13,000 bees–and now have about 50,000 to 60,000. I have a top bar hive instead of a Langstroth hive and the maintenance is minimal. Sometimes I’m just to curious for my own good! So try backyard beekeeping for yourself! It’s cheaper than golf and more jun!

  • Joseph

    Bees rock my socks!

  • ray slattery

    i live in wagga wagga nsw aust/i live on a normal houseblock with plenty of flowers i am interested in the fate of the bee.my question is could my backyard substain a hive.i have a neighbour who was a beekeeper,he would help me regards ray

  • scotto

    What a wonderful program, although sad/scary too. Nature is the most prudent teacher on the planet. She gives us plenty of warning, guides us to be grateful, inspires us to take further steps, fills us with special energy. We must learn to listen..We are all one moving force. A great hawaiian saying, “we all rise or none at all” It is our DUTY to protect and serve. Our inner city backyard garden was trash 5 years ago, now look: http://www.topsystore.com/garden.htm , This is now a special place filled with birds, fish, bees, flowers AND people…we belong with nature…let her inside of you!

  • Joyce

    I have nowhere to plant, and the other tenants wouldn’t appreciate a beehive, but my congressmen will definitely hear from me! When I was young, my neighbor had beehives, and I loved the little guys!

  • Krista

    To Mark #9: Mark, what’s the best way to go about finding out the local beekeeping ordinances in my area, without stirring up undue concern?
    The bees seem to enjoy our property, and I’d like to encourage them to
    re-locate their hives to natural areas on the property rather than the
    human-occupied structures they’re using now. (chimney, etc.)

  • jane

    I watched this show and thought about how the bees in my back yard are doing just fine and we have more each year.
    I look at those bee boxes and think “No wonder bees are falling apart! That can’t be good for them.”
    I agree with Renn:

    Renn Says:

    I believe that current beekeeping methods are part of the problem with today’s bee population decline.

    Here’s why… stress = disease (un ease)

    Stress makes any living organism susceptible to diseases by weakening the natural immune system of that living organism. ..
    It is our own fault they are getting sick because have stressed them to death.

    We have stressed and weakened our current bee population by

    #1 cloning queen bees and not letting nature create natural bio diversity.

    #2 building hives that are primarily geared towards honey production and not bee preservation. ….Bees produce honey as their food for winter. .. we [remove their natural food source] and we feed them sugar water.

    #3 moving the hives around the country (and world) on the back of semi trucks and airplanes causes more stress. ..and susceptible to disease.

    #4 Pesticides

    #5 we have over planted massive crops of the same plant in one area. Bees like humans need a diverse diet to stay healthy.

  • Mac

    thank you very much. I am starting beekping in my backyard and will use no pesticides, hope to plant many different plants this spring, will not feed my bees high fructose corn syrup, and plan on listening to their needs as much as possible.
    thanks again

  • Alfiya A.

    This is a serious issue and I hope we find THE cause as soon as possible. i wouder what happens to those who are left in a hive after the majority of bees dissappear. I know that surprisingly, neightboring colonies do not invade the troubled hive. I wish there is more information on queens and drones of affected hives. Also, is anything happening to wild bees populations? More questions that answers, as usually:).

  • Monica NJ

    I became a beekeeper two summers ago. I have two hive boxes and this year will probably have about 80 lbs of honey. It’s not labor intensive except a couple times a year. It’s very very doable. If you can lift 50 lbs – you have the strength to do this. And the bees are not agressive. Only two stings in 3 summers so far.

  • Libby

    I’ve been a beekeeper for quite some time. Last year I lost 13 of my 26 hives. 50%! It was a bit disappointing to say the least.I suspect CCD as the culprit. They just disappeared during the winter. This year I have 14 neighbors trying their hand a the craft of keeping bees and so far so good. My neighborhood is really trying to do their part…of course I think thay have dubbed me the ‘crazy bee lady’ down the street but after watching this program many now understand my fondness of those buzzing little pollinators. And why my yard looks half jungle and half prairie. ‘Here’s to all the bees and the humans they keep.’

  • carolyn smith

    we began to notice honeybees working on our sweet william plants and the white clover in our yard and field…so, we now mow around the white clover and after two cuttings mow down the old clover that has gone to seed, then mow around new stands of clover. in four years i have not seen more than a handful of honeybees…this year i counted 43 on one patch of white clover that was only 3 ft by 4 ft. hope it helps.

  • Karen Reed

    28 years ago, when I moved to my current home in Northern Ohio, there were so many bees that I could hear the hum in my kitchen from my garden 25 feet away! Now I can barely find a few bees in the same garden. This area has had much development and this is just part of the result. The numbers of birds has greatly diminished. I am looking into starting with bees next season.

  • Patricia

    For several years we had a large wild colony in a hollow tree next to my house, and two years ago they suddenly vanished. This Spring a few bees seemed to be repopulating the tree for a time, and then they too vanished. I do see some bees here and there and lots of pollinators in my semi-wild flower garden (lots of russian sage, lavender, catmint and a little bee balm among others) but very few honeybees.
    I watched a group of honeybees eating or something on the gravel/dirt driveway early in the Spring, and we were careful not to mow any on the clover/grass, but it now hardly any visible signs. Usually our flowering mock orange bush and flowering trees are literally humming, but no longer. Plenty of wasps and hornets!

  • Maria Jenins

    For the many people that are looking to keep bees, just look for your local beekeeping association. They exist almost everywhere. We keep bees and enjoy their amazing lives and the joy they have brought to ours. It would be wonderful if every city had beekeepers keeping bees for the benefit of the bees!

  • BILL L

    I was a bee keeper for may yrs an now living in a small city I HAVE 2 Hives again. The olks walking by stop an ask me stuff ive opened the hive for several folks. Thanks to things like this We will Make it.I have been around the African bees they are workable but not for everyone. We need more bee keepers. A hive in every yard and stop the mono cropping with them. Just some thoughts from a 70 yr old bee keeper.

  • Paul Hegedus

    My familly and I have just finished watching the program SILENCE of the BEE’S.I will watch it again on the pbs web site.We have a small garden in our yard.None of the flowers have had any bees at all.I heard of this matter a year ago,and I can tell you as of right now I can count the number of honey bees I have seen on one hand.My neighbor has noticed the same problem.None of her tomato plants for the last two years has produce any tomatos at all.I will find out tomorrow if I am allowed to keep bees.If yes I will start and keep it a small venture,I will also go buy as many flowers for the fall I can.

  • Linda Hemenway

    I just watched your program of the declining Honey Bee population. I have a backyard vegetable garden, along with two varieties of sweet smelling Petunias, and some Impatiens and Asparagras Ferns. I did have a few Sunflowers, which I grew from the bird seed that fell to the ground, but both the bees and the birds devoured the flower heads, and I just cut them down. I find the bees flocking to my Hummingbird feeders, at least twenty or more per feeder, trying to get out the sugar/water solution in them. Are these Honey Bees or some other type of bee, and is this solution good for them. I don’t know if they are using it as a supplement to the flowers, or if they are just drinking the solution in the feeders. Is anyone able to answer my question?

  • Cathy

    My husband and I started keeping bees last year (2008), and this spring we planted a bee garden. Today (July 26)I saw several bees working the borage, and while I didn’t see any on the bee balm, they are probably working it too. We hope to get some honey soon, but we plan to leave enough honey for overwintering. We only fed sugar water last year when our first hive was getting started and didn’t have any stores built up yet. Your program is very good, and I would like to see a follow-up, a “Part 2″, to inform the public about progress made since the first show aired. There are several very good books out now too; one I read awhile back was “Fruitless Fall”. It would also be a good idea if you could post links to beekeeping clubs, as they can be hard to find. We just happened to see a newspaper article and tracked down our local beekeeping association. It turned out they held annual classes and mentored new beekeepers. It is a great hobby, and the people you meet are the friendliest and most helpful people you will find anywhere. If you love science, there is plenty of that, and of course the honey and other delicious bee products!

  • Kathy LeTard

    I’m curious as to the role MONSANTO SEEDS, laden with a poisonous chemical make-up of fungicide/pesticide.I oppose ALL GMO seeds. Our government, President,(monsanto sits on his board),yet he and first lady planted an organic garden for their personal consumption: Senators, House of Representatives, applaude this practice due to the large amounts of money given to them by Monsanto lobbyists. My belief is this is yet another vital gift of nature to be destroyed, without regret, from people who are motivated by greed by-way of their power over the rest of us. Their ability to be totally ignorant,as well as uncaring with the Final Analysis Of Their Actions, is not the definition of SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS. Global concerned citizens, lets ban together to stop this. YES WE CAN

  • Joanna A.

    Here in southern Florida, have seen several reports of bee swarms inhabiting abandoned homes, of which there are many with home sales grinding to a halt and foreclosures numerous. If the disappearing bees aren’t dying, but just relocating, maybe they are the ones turning up in these abandoned homes and are very happy on their own. They may be smart enough to know that the commercial hives are contaminated or the crops they were servicing are poisoned with chemicals, many of which are systemic and probably end up in the pollen. All lawn care professionals use pesticides and chemicals to keep our lawns beautiful, however,over a 10 year period back in Pennsylvania, I noticed that many of the insects (lady bugs, Praying Mantis, grasshoppers, butterflies) were fewer in number with every passing year. This is just a microcosm of what is happening all over the world~we have to stop using these horrible chemicals just to have nicer lawns and bigger tomatoes!

  • Susan Nikas

    I have a wild bee hive living in the wall of a barn in my yard. I have done nothing to help but I would also like to do nothing to harm them. Anybody have any ideas on how to do that?

  • Geoff

    When writing to your representative, to demand more money for rersearch, include a mention that beekeeping regulations should be relaxed to allow backyard hives which are prohibited in many areas.

    If bees are kept responsibly they should cause no nuisance, even to close neighbors.

    http://www.bees-on-the-net.com/beekeeping.html

  • nan anchorage

    anyone with even a little bit of a garden should consider at least one hive. it is very rewarding to watch the progression of the hive through the summer, then be rewarded with a little honey at the end of the season. we have managed to winter them over in our cold climate. we need more local back yard beekeepers.

  • Terri Robbins

    My husband is a beekeeper. We are also organic gardeners. One way we keep rabbits out of our veggie gardens was spread clover seed. Triple benefit: rabbits prefer clover to my tomatoes; bees love the clover flower; and you don’t have to mow clover!!

  • ray denoble

    RE the bees..
    This seems to be a universal problem..as the Queens sends out messages to the workers I believe this to be a message of distress ..confusion (pesticide cause) Inbreeding ???? The emphasis should be on the queen bee’s behavior..during the exodus of bees… The queen bee should be examined death for chemicals and . ..dna .. or hormonal changes .during the destructive process…

  • ray

    Perhaps the farmer could grow one acre of flowers for every so many acres of fruit trees……Or a people could initiate flower-growing projects and plant unused areas ..

  • Mark Toliver

    I am a small beekeeper is their a cure for the virus and medicine to stop this virus. I have just a few hives. I do not use any pesticides I am a organic farmer. We need to get this under control or our society will die to.

  • tristan

    I am a 7 yere old i haleping the beeies.
    i will look.
    but can YOU?

  • Mike

    It doesn’t surprise me that this is happening, with everything that we do to the environment. I’m surprised that everyone who owns a farm, doesn’t own at least 2 beehives.

  • matt

    Excellent Show! We try to have a variety of healthy flowering plants in our garden and yard. We add plants each year. Can someone tell me, does commercial fertilizer have an effect on bees too?

  • Mel

    I too plan on starting two hives next April when you can buy package bees. I recommend the yahoo organic beekeepers website to learn how to keep bees. One can use top bar hives that are easy to make and inexpensive. Bees have been forced to become too large for commercial interests by being raised in large cell hives. Let your bees regress down to their normal size. They will then be resistant to most bee diseases, tracheal mites, varroa, etc. You can learn about this on the yahoo site. Best wishes. Let us each get a couple of hives in our backyard.

  • pdwebb

    I planted lavender extensively as landscaping and the first couple of years enjoyed the variety of bees that came around. Every year the bee population grows less and less. Very disturbing. My family thought the bee disappearance was inconsequential. This program illuminates very clearly we need to become more globally responsible for our actions.

  • christine

    Very interesting show. Never realized the importance of bees. I use to be afraid of bees because I had been attacked by a hive, I believed were yelllow jackets or hornets at a young age. I actually fell into an under ground hive while building a treehouse. Now I welcome them and watch them as they fly by. I have avoided using stong pesticides and have planted plants /flowers to maybe help them multiply. I will pass the word to adults and children when their is opportunity, especially when I teach. Thank you so much.

  • Doug

    I think people really need to educate themselves more about bees and beekeeping before putting up opinions that are less than expert. I’ve been a beekeeper for 16 years and I read with interest what Renn had to say. Although I’ll agree with (him/her?) on the stress aspect in general that moving hives could be a source of stress, but only for a short period of time after they’ve been moved. Bees, like most creatures on this planet are very resilient. In nature, they could lose there home to any number of natural disasters and have to find a place to relocate. When the hive becomes overcrowded, they produce more queens to split off from the main hive to produce more colonies. Yes, pesticides are a serious problem with hive mortality. I am not aware that queens are being cloned. They are being selectively bred for mite and disease resistance and some queen breeders are getting away from artificial insemination and going towards natural reproduction. As for diversity of crops, the honey bee will almost allways collect necter from the largest necter source that is available at that time because it’s more efficient for them. Pollen and necter is utilized as food for the bees regaurdless of wether it came from one source or not, and not to their detriment.There is allways diverse pollen and necter sources even in an area of “massive crops.” As for the hives, the Langsroth hive has been used since around the time of the civil war without a problem. The sugar water that you think that is so bad for the bees isn’t any different than the necter they gather and ingest , where by a process in the bees stomach, enzymes are added to produce honey or wax. It’s no different with the sugar water/syrup, it still ends up real honey or wax. Yes, stress can be a factor, but not to the degree as Renn would have us believe. Bees have been around for millions of years and have coped with everything nature has thrown at them. Even now they are finding wild hives are natually finding ways of coping with the mites and disease, and from these hives breeders are taking the strongest and most resistant queens and introducing them into the gene pool for a stronger more resistant honey bee.

  • Lavern Livingston

    This sounds like a catastrophe, i did not realize this bee problem until i watched the video on PBS. I remember as a little girl, my two brothers and I made flower necklaces out of freshly picked small grass flowers and demonstrated a ritual-type dance when the bees came around us. Living in the lush mountain side of Jamaica, we were one with nature. As energetic kids, after school we would wonder off to the fields almost everyday for fresh fruits, my favorite was mangoes and sugar cane. As we strolled through the fields, we would stumbled accross huge wild honey bee hives on some of the tallest trees in the fields. Having given brief and insightful lectures about the importance of honey bees by our parents, we took caution in trying not to disturb the honey bees as they are not only working but are highly aggressive, this was our way of life back home, we protect the honey bees by not disturbing them in nature-so to speak. The entire community where I grew up were pro-organic, plants and animals were pesticide-free. I return once a year to my home town, things developed a bit but nature is still in tact, i return to see the same kinds of birds, butterfly, and yes the honey bees are still resilient. I plan to return home this summer and do a bit of research to see what the honey bee population is like there, I am not a professional researcher but my intimate background with nature will guide my intellectual ability. I am willing to help this bee crisis, please feel free to respond or comment.

  • Luke

    I want to be a backyard beekeeper! It sounds fun and good for the CCD situation

  • Andrea

    Does anyone know why entire hives are dropping into the ocean? I assume it is an entire hive as the beach is littered with bees. I live near the ocean and am constantly amazed by all the bees that are washed up on the shore. As I walk a mile down the beach I see honey bees at the tide line. Many are dead, dying or trying to dry off to fly away. I often attempt to collect some in my hat and find a place for them to dry off. Sometimes I take them home and feed them some honey to see if they’ll recover. I wish I knew why this was happening so that it could be stopped. I’ve seen bees washed up on the sand for at least 5 years, maybe longer. I wonder if anyone is studying this.

  • m. l.

    I have known about the problem and have been a backyard beekeeper for several years. Have 3 hives and I have split to obtain a 4th and gave it to a friend for his backyard. Wish me continued luck.

  • MIndy

    Thank you for this incrediable video on the bees. I am a teacher who teaches ecology. We discuss the how an ecosystem must be balanced and how everything is interconnected. This really enlightened my students. They went from hating pesky bees to respecting their role in the ecosystem. They come to class now excited about spotting a honey bee!

  • clw101

    Anybody who started hives in 2008 have updates?

  • Michelle

    I’m making sure I only use bee friendly plants in the garden and on my balcony. I am also going to suggest to local garden clubs the idea of planting a garden of only things that will attract bees

  • Christine

    I watched this last night and observed how they investigated and sourced the problem to a disease. What struck me however was the immune systems of the bees being depleted. I know they have contracted a disease, but how did their immune systems become so weakened in the first place? My gut feeling is that bio-engineered seeds used in crops all over the world are missing an important element that supports bees nutritionally and probably us as well? I think more investigation needs to be done into researching the seeds being used for our food supply. I think we have missed something with our playing with mother nature, something we didn’t see when we took DNA from one source and mixed it with another. Was something left behind?

    I recently attended a talk presented at the United Nations Association of Southern Arizona meeting where I heard this disconcerting news, that about 85% of us are using genetically modified foods and may not be aware of this. A study done on hamsters demonstrated that after being feed a hardy diet of genetically modified foods for 2 years, resulted with most of the 3rd generation offspring as being sterile; unable to reproduce. (Goto: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/genetically-modified-soy_b_544575.html for this finding.) So ask yourself: What might this do to Our 3rd generation of offspring? Only time will tell or are the bees already telling us something?

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  • Christian

    I have just finished watching the Silence of the Bees. I have witnessed bees wondering aimlessly around my home, dying by the hundreds around my son’s school and all over Southern California. I have heard of a problem with the bees for several years, but I want to speak about it in a way that I’m not sure will be accepted but I feel should be stated.
    In the bible it talks about the end of the world as we know it. It speaks of signs such as famine, drought and earthquakes before this several year end of the world happens. We will not be able to stop the events from happening but we can be prepared by believing in Jesus before it happens. Famine is a result of the loss of the bees and if I may go so far as to point out that the video even speaks of making a “super bee” which made me think of the stinging creature spoken of in the book of Revelations. We all know that aggressive bees are dangerous to be near and they are stronger than our honeybees so using them to help solve the issue is interesting. By funding bee research to form this “super bee” we may actually fulfilling scripture by eventually creating the creature that will hurt unbelievers in the end. Strange thought I know, but Jesus uses our choices to accomplish His will no matter if they are good or bad choices. All I am saying is that the disappearance of the bees is an indicator, to me, that famine is coming and that in turn brings the book of Revelation closer to being fulfilled. “Bee” prepared.

  • sheNose

    I think you bible fanatics need a reality check! Because of all this insane obsession with the ancient wordings in this bronze book pyschologically we are trying to fulfill those prophecies because we want to believe SO bad that the book IS the word of God. I say PUT THE GOSH DARN BOOK DOWN and snap to reality and let’s go to war against the evils who are destroying our world! And I don’t care how much you want to believe the end is near, it gives us no right to allow it to actually happen! We don’t ALL want to get to the NEXT world, there are a good number of us who actually LIKE THIS world! We need to put an end to ignorant destructive bad guys who hate life, who hate us, and who hate this world! BAN PESTICIDES BEE-fore it’s too late!!!

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  • Jay Ely

    Last summer I had a great observation of bees, there were thousands in my yard but why? I went on a two week vaca. and didn’t mow my lawn. This left a ton of tiny yellow and purple flowers that attracted a bee blanket. It was amazing, I never saw so many bees. I n
    Didn’t mow a large area of my lawn the rest of the summer. What was different about my lawn… It sucks hardly any grass and I use no lawn treatments and I never will. P. S. My vegetable garden did great!

  • Booneslick

    I have witnessed an effect while testing weather radar systems. We put the wave guide dishes on the loading dock to paint or broadcast the radar signals over a field. We did this for short periods and found the dishes covered with bees and house flies. It seemed strange that both insects were attracted. This was some years ago around 1984 prior to the more recent evacuations of hives. In recent years, NOAA has tested newer methods of weather detection that use more power and directed at lower altitudes. I hope this helps in the research. I am not trying to state a certainty or fact, only an idea.

  • Concernedcitizen

    Thank you PBS for informing us daily with information to help us learn and “bee” aware!! As studies have been done to find the cause of this horrific disappearance…how does GE plants or GMO play a part in the Honey Bees pollination? Has there been any investigations, reports, or TV programs to link the two? Thanks so much and our family will continue to support PBS and their efforts to keep us informed!

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  • Michele Cravens

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    I can understand wanting to kill these things if youve ever been stung. but its just a defence mechanism.- if someone came at you waving there arms around, wouldnt you punch them?

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  • Denise Bennett

    I hope it’s not too late for us to do something about our honeybee friends. I see bees on the ground all the time and I pick them up. Sometimes they recover but many times they do not. I take them to the flowers for a last drink. It’s heart-breaking. Pesticides are a major culprit. We need to plant flowers and stop using chemicals… and buy organic food and clothing. I started a petition to reclassify honeybees as endangered. This could be an important step to ending CCD. To sign, just follow this link:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/please-help-save-the-honeybees
    Thank you so much!
    ~Denise B.

  • Vickie S

    My spouse and I started beekeeping in 2010. We took beekeeping classes that consisted of about 6 classes over the span of 1 yr. We started with two hives in the spring of 2010, by spring of 2012 all of our bees had disappeared from both hives. The hives were full of honey, however, no bees. We destroyed (burned) the empty hives and started with two new hives/bees last spring (2012). We had a warm day last week (Jan. 2013) my husband has reported that one of the two hives has no bees and the hive is still full of honey…very frustrating, disappointing, and very concerned about the possiblity that bees will become extinct. I contacted the State of Iowa Apriary expert last spring to report our bee loss…my next step is to contact Senator & State Reps.

  • Crabgrass

    I have considered beekeeping, but I am sure my neighbors would have a fit!

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