The "B" Word

By Katherine Ramirez

San Bernardino residents Fabiola Delgado, 54, and husband Leo Delgado, 57, have worked with bees for over 20 years. They are the owners of Faby's Bees, a production of pure natural honey, certified organic from honeybees that repopulate themselves.

The decision to begin a business came after Mr.Delgado suffered an injury at his last job. Consequently, Mrs. Delgado picked up a night shift as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Community Hospital of San Bernardino, but her salary alone could not make ends meet.

However, the true issue for the Delgados was not money, but the rapid rate at which honeybees were disappearing.

"The well-being of human beings depends on the well-being of honeybees," Mrs. Delgado said. "Honeybees have been disappearing or dying at an alarming rapid rate. In the past, this has been referred to as the Colony Collapse Disorder, and if they are not taken care of, the production of fruits and vegetables could be cut up to 30 percent," she added.

These pollinators are important to agriculture, because they pollinate many of our foods such as almonds, blueberries, cherries and cucumbers.

So what is causing these buzzing insects to die? There are a variety of proposed factors that contribute to the fall of these pollinators, from pesticides to parasites. Pesticides, like neonicotinoids, harm the nervous system of the honey bees.

"It causes the honeybees to have navigation problems, flying problems, causing them to lose direction," Mrs. Delgado said.

Parasites, like the Varroa Mites, seem to have the greatest impact on the decline of honeybees. The mites attack the bees from the moment they become larvae, leading to their eventual death.

A shortage of flowers also contribute to the decline. They require heavily forested spaces, with flowers, to be able to eat and collect pollen for their own hives. However, with the demands of certain products like corn and soybeans, farmers have replaced many open fields with crops.

"If honeybees are not eating natural nectar and are ingesting pesticides instead, they will only continue to die," Mrs. Delgado said.

Aside from these factors, the Delgados have been confronting another huge issue: vandalism. Just recently, their local bee farm at the Rancho Verde Golf Club in Rialto was vandalized over night. The accused are a group of mischievous kids who destroyed the hives that the Delgados work diligently to protect.

"We are sad that anyone would harm our bees. We work hard to repopulate them for the benefit of the world. We are also sad that they are dying and no one pays attention to the issue," Mrs. Delgado said.

According to the Associated Press, bees have been classified as an endangered species for the first time in the United States.

"Federal authorities on Friday have added seven yellow-faced bees, Hawaii's only native bees, for protection under the Endangered Species Act," said Caleb Jones, Associated Press.

This was decided after many years of research done by state government officials, independent researchers and the conservation group, Xerces Society. Their goal is to protect nature's pollinators, which play a big role in the condition of the ecosystem.

Mrs. Delgado and her husband have four locations of honey farms in San Bernardino and Riverside county. They will continue to repopulate bees as long as they can, and are more than willing to educate the community on the importance of these pollinating insects. 

If you see a hive being built near your house, do not knock it down or kill the honeybees. Call a professional to remove it, so that the hive can be safely taken to a bee farm.