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You’ve probably heard about the mysterious disappearance of bees in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. The possible reasons for this phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD) are climate change, genetically modified crops, pesticides and fungicides, parasites and pathogens, toxins in the environment, malnutrition, migratory beekeeping, genetics, habitat loss among several others. The loss of honey bees means much more than just high honey prices: bees are primary pollinators in both the human and animal food chains.
10 Things You Can Do To Help Save Bees
1. Plant bee-friendly plants
Bees are all about pollen and nectar, as they need it to feed their colonies. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will provide bees with forage. Flowering trees such as tulip poplars, oranges, tupelos and sourwoods are also attractive to bees.
Here are some easy-to-grow bee friendly plants: lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, wisteria, mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle, fuchsia, toadflax, honeywort, ironweed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, dragonhead, Echinacea, bee balm, buttercup, goldenrod and English thyme.
2. Weeds can be a good thing
If it’s bees you want to help, a lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing- it’s a great thing- a haven for honeybees and other native pollinators too.
3. Provide bee habitat
A secure place to live is important to solitary and colony bees. Unlike honeybees that live in their cozy waxy hives (they still need a safe location), natural bees make use of many kinds of shelter: abandoned animal burrows, dead trees and branches and in underground nest tunnels.
Help wood-nesting bees by placing a few inexpensive bee blocks out in the garden. Bee blocks are basically blocks of wood with holes of various sizes. Open a rent-free apartment complex for burrowing bees by providing a mound of loose earth near a water source.
4. Eliminate garden chemicals and pesticides.
They may make your plants look pristine and pretty, but they’re actually ruining the life in your garden’s biosphere. Not to mention the residue of toxic pesticides in the soil and crops you grow. Instead investigate and practice organic and natural means of pest control and gardening.
Vibrant chemical-free plants and gardens are a friendly invitation to bees.
5. Buy local, raw honey. Support your local beekeepers.
If you’re buying from a grocery store, the label will say if the honey is untreated as it is a major selling point. Strive to buy local, raw honey that is from hives untreated by chemicals. Seek out your local beekeepers and buy their honey. There are health benefits to eating raw unprocessed honey, and keeping small beekeepers in business is good for everyone.
6. Become a beekeeper.
If it interests you, learn how to be a beekeeper with sustainable practices. Look up a local bee association in your community that offers classes with natural approaches and link up.
7. Keep a bowl of fresh water outside your home.
Did you know bees need to drink water? They seek out shallow water sources like puddles and bird baths. Even if you don’t keep bees, you can help our little pollinator friends by keeping a bird bath or even just a saucer of fresh water out in the garden for them. And while you’re at it, put a stone or something for them to perch on while they drink as bees are not known to be good swimmers.
8. Share solutions with others in your community
Of the many fun ways to help and be a voice for the bees, sharing solutions and educating your local community about the importance of bees can be very fulfilling. Get involved and spread the word at local community meetings, at conferences, in schools and universities, and on online message boards and forums.
9. Let your government officials and policy makers know how you feel.
Change has to happen from both top-down as well as bottom-up. Sign petitions banning pesticides. Write in to your parliament representatives letting them know what you think. Encourage your local authority to do more to help bees. Volunteer to help if you can.
10. Buy organic food, practice organic gardening!
Organic farmers don’t use neonicotinoid pesticides. They also have more complex crop rotations meaning there is a greater diversity of plants for bees to forage on. Supporting organic farmers by buying organic is an everyday action with a big impact. Use organic techniques and grow a wide range of crops in your garden.