Did you know that bees are in serious trouble worldwide?
Some countries have experienced a decline in their bee population by as much as 50% in the last few years. This is not only tragic for bees, but also for our entire ecosystem. Fortunately, there are many ways in which we can all do our part to save our bees.
The Importance of Bees
Revered by the ancients, bees pollinate our plants and flowers so our gardens grow. They are directly responsible for our food sources globally, and without thriving bees, humanity (not to mention all other life) will not survive, let alone thrive.
30% of crops worldwide and 90% of wild plants need bees and other insect pollinators to thrive. Farmers who actively encourage and keep bees experience greater, healthier crop yields.
Our survival literally depends on that of bees.
What is Killing our Bees?
- Colony Collapse Disorder occurs when most worker bees leave the hive. They leave plenty of honey, but just the queen and baby bees.
- Varroa Mite is a parasite which feeds on the bodies of adult and larval honeybees. It weakens the bees and transmits viruses and other diseases which can ultimately kill the colony.
- Humans are also responsible for killing bees and harming our bee populations. This includes:
- Insecticide and herbicide use
- Climate change
- Pollution of air, soil, and waterways
- Reduction of wild prairies, meadows, woodland, and bush land
- Mono-crop culture
- Industrial beekeeping practices
- Over-grooming and extension of gardens and unnatural landscapes
How Can We Stop Bee Population Decline?
- Stop Using Herbicides and Insecticides – these chemicals are harmful to insects, including bees and other critical pollinators. Spraying flowers on weeds is akin to baiting and trapping bees Instead of using these harmful chemicals, consider:
- Remove weeds by hand
- Choose humane methods of eliminating snails, slugs, and other pests
- Plant herbs which repel pests
- Allow your garden to grow a little wilder
- Support Local Beekeepers – or become a beekeeper yourself! Find and join a local beekeeping club to learn the ropes and understand more about these amazing little creatures.
- Call Experts to Rescue or Relocate a Bee Swarm – contact your local council or search Google for a local beekeeper if you have a swarm in your garden. Swarming bees are simply seeking a new place to set up home and a beekeeper can quickly and easily capture them happily into a new hive and relocate them to a more suitable place.
- Purchase Local Raw Honey – buying local honey from beekeepers in your area not only supports local small business; it also is better for you, tastes amazing, and helps locals who are directly caring for bees.
- Support sustainable, organic agriculture and supply chains.
- Avoid planting lawns – these are a desert for bees.
Tips for Encouraging Bees
- Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden – plant flowers to attract bees to your garden. More flowers equate to more bees – and variety is the spice of life for bees as much as it is for any of us! Learn about which flowers bees love the most and plant these around your garden – think mint, lavender, poppies, etc.
- Allow Dandelions and Clover to Grow on your Lawn – these may be considered weeds by humans, but they are very important and appealing food sources for bees. Bees prefer a meadow to a clipped lawn.
- Build or purchase a native bee house for your back yard. This provides shelter and a place to nest and rest.
- Provide a safe supply of very shallow, fresh water or sugar water in your garden for bees to rest and hydrate at.
- Create a compost pile at home to enrich your soil, encourage earthworms, and grow a healthier garden.
Take the time to learn more about bees – they really are fascinating and, with a little knowledge, you’ll be even more inclined to work with them in your local environment. They need us – but we need them even more.