1 in every 3 bites of food that we eat is a direct result of bees and other pollinators. Alarmingly, in 2017-2018, 40% of managed beehives died off. Also in 2o17, the first species of bee was added to the U.S. endangered species list. Because bees play such an essential role in our food system and ecosystem, we've compiled five ways to help save the bees!
Purchase local, raw honey.
Stop by your local farmers' market and pick up some local, raw honey! When you shop locally for honey the profits go directly back to beekeepers who are able to continue their important work in your area. The bees pollinate local flora which directly improves your community's ecosystem.
As a bonus, your own health receives a boost! Local honey helps you develop a tolerance to certain pollens to help reduce your sniffles in allergy season.
Plant bees' favorite flowers and herbs
Plant a bee focused garden. Find your local county extension office and find what flowers and herbs are native in your community. Choose from these plants when planning your garden. You’ll benefit from the gorgeous and aromatic garden and the bees will benefit from having plenty of their favorite honey-making sources!
When planning your bee garden, choose a variety of flowers that bloom from the earliest viable time in the spring to the latest time in the fall. Bee colonies often suffer during winters so the longer their window for collecting nectar is, the better chance they have for surviving the harsh conditions of winter.
There is a wide variety of plants that attract bees, and you'll want to focus on high pollen and high nectar-producing plants. Some bee favorites include:
Don't use pesticides or herbicides in your yard, and buy organic when possible.
Skip the chemicals in your garden. Pesticides are one of the leading reasons for the decline of the bee population and have been shown to be especially damaging if applied when flowers are in full bloom. Avoid chemical sprays in your yard and garden, including sprays labeled as “organic.” Often times organic sprays can still have harmful chemicals in them. Take this a step further and ensure the nurseries where you shop for your garden take a chemical-free approach as well. Do your research and find better alternatives, like laying down cardboard boxes to clear the weeds.
Organic produce is grown without the use of harmful chemicals including pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. These chemicals are harmful to humans as well as to pollinators. Shopping organic produce helps protect the bee population of the regions where the produce comes from, which are often developing nations. Fewer pesticides and herbicides mean healthier bee communities and a healthier Planet Earth.
Let Congress know you think bees are important.
Contact your local congressperson and tell them you want them to push for environmental protections for bees. Feel free to remind them of just how important bees and other pollinators are for our environment. Lobbyists for big chemical companies are making their voices known to politicians, so make sure your voice is being heard too!
Support organizations that are trying to help save the bees!
There are numerous organizations out there who are responding to the bee crisis and are trying to help save the bees!
Also, getting involved with your local garden club or beekeepers' club can be a great way to help save the bees in your local community. Your county extension office also has plenty of experts who love to share their environmental knowledge to help advance conservation!