Bees are a major vital part of our eco-system. I know I’m not alone in wondering how to help save bees. They play a huge role in our eco-system and food chain and are responsible for pollinating SO many of our food plants. It’s been estimated that 1/3 of our food is thanks to the pollination of bees.
So what would the world look like without these little insects? We’d be faced with a severe lack of food, for starters. You might have already heard about colony collapse disoreder (CCD) or the vanishing bee syndrome, that has been occurring all over North America and Europe. Some honeybee losses are as high as 75%, which is devastating.
While scientists aren’t 100% sure of why this is happening, signs point to pesticide-use, in particular neonicotinoids. Luckily, there are many things we can do to be kind to the bees and help them, which in turn helps us and our environment. Here are 10 simple things we can do to help bees.
10 Ways to Help Save Bees
- Plant Bee-friendly Plants. This is probably the most important thing we can do to help save the bees. Whether you have a big garden or just a small space, there are options for everyone. What are some of the best plants for bees? Lavender, lilac, thyme, forget-me-not, sage, aster, English daisy, rosemary, mint, oregano, lily of the valley, and raspberry and blackberry are all great ones to start with. Here’s a more intensive list of bee-friendly plants. Planting a garden is also the perfect way to teach children about the natural world, kindness to the environment, and how to grow their own food. The Imagination Tree has a great post on starting an organic garden with kids, and Rhythms of Play teaches you how to start your spring garden with the kids. If you live in the northern hemisphere like us, Buggy and Buddy has excellent info (and a free printable) on how to start your seeds indoors, and here are 10 fun ways to start your seeds.
- Leave the Weeds. Don’t be so quick to start creating a pristinely manicured lawn. Leave those wildflowers and other non-invasive weeds. Plants like dandelions and clovers are an awesome haven for bees.
- Ditch the Chemicals and Lawn Fertilizers. Pest treatments and other chemicals that are used on lawns and gardens are causing major damage to honeybees. The most dangerous time to apply these is when flowers and plants are in bloom, as the pesticides seep into the pollen and nectar, and are then taken back to the hive. This can cause major hive collapses, and plus….that honey we’re eating? It can easily be full of toxic chemicals from pesticides and other fertilizers. Not to mention that certain pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, have recently been under intense scrutiny for massive bee colony collapses worldwide. What to do instead? There are tons of natural pest remedies for the garden that you can easily use and these will not affect beneficial insects like bees:)
- Buy Local, Raw Honey. We absolutely love supporting our local honeybee farmers and aim to only buy local, and when possible, raw, honey from hives that are not treated by chemicals. Why? Because raw, organic honey is the healthiest option. Hint: most of the honey you find at conventional grocery stores is crap. It’s easy to tell the difference between good raw honey and honey that has been processed. Raw honey is cloudy and solid at room temperature. Raw honey is also the stuff that’s s anti-bacterial, anti-fungl, and anti-viral. AND, it’s full of magnesium, calcium, potassium and B-vitamins. I recommend going to your local farmer’s market (or nearby farms if you have them close enough) to buy honey. Make sure it says “raw” or “pure”. You might actually be able to meet the beekeepers – they are normally at most farmer’s markets with their delicious honey – and you can talk to them to get a feel for their practices.
- Give the Bees Water. Did you know bees get thirsty? It’s true. Most can’t land in bird baths, so they’ll need their own special place. Use a shallow bowl or plate, line it with rocks, and add water. The rocks will give the bees little “islands” to land on. Place this near the garden so they can stop by for a drink after pollinating your plants. Another good idea is to also put the bath near any plants affected by bad insects (like aphids) – then the beneficial insects that will come to drink will take care of the nasty buggers. Win, win!
- Buy Local and Organic. When it comes to produce and food, try to buy local and organic whenever you can. This way, you know you’re supporting farmers who are really trying to make a difference, helping the bees, and also bettering your health.
- Make Your Own Bee House. If you have space in your yard, you can easily make your own little house for bees. If you’re not up for making your own, but still want to provide the bees with shelter, you can easily buy a bee house like this one.
- Lobby Your Local Politicians. Wherever you live, send a message to your local MP, congressperson or other politician to encourage them to do more to save the bees. You can also sign petitions banning the use of harmful chemicals.
- Become a Beekeeper. Yes, you can do this! If you have a big enough space and are passionate about saving bees, it’s not too difficult to become a beekeeper. Bonus: you’ll never run out of fresh, raw honey. Popular Mechanics has amazing tips for helping you get started.
- Talk to Friends and Family. Get the word out to your friends, family members and co-workers about what they can do to help bees. The more people who know, the better.
Do you have any other tips for being kind to the environment and helping the bee colonies? I’d love to know!
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