If you’re a lover of bees, honey, or even flowers, the headlines in the last few years have probably felt particularly dire. It’s hard to open a webpage, listen to the radio, or read a magazine without seeing anxiety-producing phrases such as these:
“Colony Collapse Disorder Spreads Nationwide”
“Bees Added to Endangered Species List”
While these sentiments are enough to make even the most optimistic bee enthusiast feel helpless, there’s still a lot we can do to help in a very direct way because after all, the importance of bees is, well, important. Here are seven easy actions that any eco-conscious friend of the bees can take to help their buzzing buddies:
#1: Support local agriculture. When you purchase the fruits, vegetables, and plants offered at your local farmer’s market, you’re keeping your local bee populations in business. In addition to financially incentivizing farmers in your town or state to invest in supporting and protecting bee populations (there are no harvests without pollination, after all), you’ll also be helping to eliminate the greenhouses gases produced by transporting these items across state or country borders by land, or ocean pollution when they’re imported.
#2: Buy local honey – and lots of it. When you financially support your local beekeepers, you’re also supporting the upkeep, care, and protection of their hives. More pollinators means better vegetables, fruit, and plant life in the surrounding region too, which makes this move not only literally sweet, but its own long-term reward as well.
#3: Commit to planting native, bee-friendly plants and flowers. All flowers are not created equal. It’s important to remember that even flower seed mixes, seed “carpets,” and seed bombs marketed as bee-friendly may not be. Your local ecosystem is dependent on balance to thrive, and introducing flora that is harmful or disruptive to the other plants, insects, and animals around it can throw a wrench in the works. Always check with a local or state gardening association for a list of native plants and flowers, and build a beautiful garden and create a habitat for bees with the material Mother Nature has already spread in your area.
#4: Protect local hives. While it’s true that most bees do have the capability to sting, even those with the ability generally won’t use it unless they are facing a life-or-death situation. Even this fact doesn’t keep some nervous humans from living peacefully near a bee hive – they look to eradicate it through chemicals or other destructive means. If you find an unwanted hive on your home, car, shed, or elsewhere, call a bee-friendly organization to relocate it, rather than an exterminator. Bee colonies will go wherever their queen is transported, which means that removing the hive is a quick, easy task in the hands of a bee ally.
#5: Eliminate pesticides in your lawn-care routines. Pesticides can be harmful or even deadly to bees and their habitat, disrupting their nervous systems, killing them outright, or poisoning the edible materials they bring back to share with the hive. Organic pesticides are just as readily available and effective at keeping unwanted pests at bay, and they won’t produce damaging chemicals that might harm pollinators like bees in the process. With large plant-selling companies like Home Depot pledging to join the fight against bee-harming pesticides, it’s easier than ever to plant a garden that helps pollinators.
#6: Offer bees a drink. While bees get a lot of their water needs through nectar, during droughts or particularly long flights, they can get dehydrated easily. Installing a birdbath or even a small bowl of water in the garden can be the difference between life and death for a bee on a hot summer day. Experts recommend placing marbles or rocks in the water, breaking the surface, as this gives bees and other pollinators something to stand on as they drink. If mosquito larvae are a concern in your area, simply dump and refill the water daily to keep it fresh and mosquito-free.
#7: Consider starting your own local bee hive. For bee supporters anxious to get a little more “hands-on” in the bee saving effort, cultivating a hive is an excellent way to help. While this step does require a little more effort than the others, the rewards are also considerably greater – beeswax, honey, beautiful and healthy garden plants, and the knowledge that they’re making a big difference. If you’re interested in starting and keeping your own hive, join a local beekeeping group or talk to a beekeepers association to see what equipment and plants are appropriate for your region and climate.
The buzzing backbone of our eco-infrastructure, bees deserve our admiration, protection, and support for all that they do. Without bees, we have no agriculture, which means our food sources would evaporate and leave us helpless and hungry. Whether it’s a desire born out of concern for survival or a genuine love of bees, these seven tips will help you be a bee ally, making an impact for bee colonies across the nation as well as in your own neighborhood.
- Ivie, Bethany. “5 Easy Ways To Save The Bees (And The World).” heifer.org (Heifer Project International [US]), August 29, 2018, https://www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2018/August/5-easy-ways-to-save-the-bees-and-save-the-world.html. Accessed June 26, 2019.
- “10 Ways You Can Help Save The Bees.” New York Bee Sanctuary.org, March 3, 2016, http://www.newyorkbeesanctuary.org/blog/2016/3/3/10-ways-you-can-help-save-the-bees. Accessed June 26, 2019.
- “Save the Bees.” Greenpeace.org, (no publish date), https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/sustainable-agriculture/save-the-bees/. Accessed June 26, 2019.
- “Help Honey Bees.” Planet Bee.org (Planet Bee Foundation), (no publish date) https://www.planetbee.org/save-honeybees. Accessed June 26, 2019.