What Can I Do to Save the Bees?
Declining bee populations have been in headlines for years. They’re dying all over the world, including here at home. And, while there are many theories about what specifically is causing their decline, we can be sure it boils down to one thing: humans have made Earth a difficult place for bees to live.
So what can we do to make it easier for bees to thrive in our own little parts of the world?
Here are some ideas!
Stop using pesticides everywhere
While vast swathes of pristine green lawn are nice to look at, they’re not good for bees! For one, there aren’t flowers that bees can use as a food source. But, mostly, the pesticides you have to use to keep bugs from chewing up your grass building ant hills are terrible for beneficial bugs… like bees.
Many people use pesticides called Neonicotinoids on their lawns to control issues like grubs and other pests. And they work… to a dangerous extent! Neonicotinoids are absolutely devastating for bees, and are directly correlated to declining bee numbers.
Neonicotinoids are harmful enough to bee and other insect populations that they’re banned in Europe and countries around the globe. Still, this category of pesticide is the most widely-used type of pesticide in the world, and bees continue to suffer.
If you want to help bees, don’t use Neonicotinoids on your lawn! Instead, explore other options like organic pesticide methods and pest-resistant plants.
But, still, huge green lawns are still not the most bee-friendly landscaping option. If you really want to help save bees, try:
Planting flowers… and letting flowers happen
The phrase “let flowers happen” sounds odd, but it’s accurate. Flowers happen! We just usually call them “weeds” instead of “flowers.”
Flowers happen everywhere. In Florida, our mild weather allows flowers to flourish year-round. Some of the most beneficial flowers are “weeds” to us, but they’re valuable sources of pollen and nectar for bees.
Common flowers like Spanish Needle (Bidens alba), Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana), wood sorrel (Oxalis debilis), clover, and other species are considered undesirable in our lawns. But they’re actually invaluable food sources for bees and other important pollinators!
Instead of spraying wildflowers with herbicides or pulling them out of your lawn, let them happen! You’ll save yourself some time and money, and you’ll be feeding bees. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
If you absolutely can’t tolerate letting flowers happen all willy-nilly, plant flowers! Bees rely on access to a variety of flowering plants for food. Planting several types of flowers on your property will help keep local bees healthy.
Remove hives, don’t spray them
If you find bees have settled in your home, you’ll probably be tempted to call an exterminator to spray your home. Instead of killing the bees, have someone remove them!
Good bee removal experts will remove the bees and relocate them instead of killing them. Those bees are checked for diseases, put in hives, and cared for. They’re safely removed from your home and given homes somewhere else. Removing bees instead of spraying them can save hundreds or thousands of bees!
Removal is better for bees… but it’s better for you, too. Spraying hives instead of removing them can result in nasty situations like honey attracting pests, piles of dead bees rotting and causing bad smells or health hazards, brood comb (baby bees before they emerge from their cells) and wax spoiling, and on and on. We’ve even seen honey from sprayed hives seep into drywall and start dripping down the wall!
Support your local beekeepers
Helping people who help bees is good for the bees and small businesses alike. There is almost undoubtedly at least one beekeeping operation near you -- find them! They’re an excellent source for honey, of course, but can often provide other goods like beeswax and bee pollen.
Instead of reaching for honey on your next trip to the store, pick some up from a local beekeeper at a farmer’s market, local grocery, or health food store. You’ll know your money is supporting a small business owner or local beekeeper who is dedicated to preserving bees. Eating local honey has other benefits, too: you can be sure of its purity, for one, and it may also help prevent or alleviate allergy symptoms.
Learn more about beekeeping
What better way to learn how to save bees than learning about the bees themselves? There are plenty of online resources available to you. You could also seek out a local beekeeping society or individual beekeeper to ask questions, learn more about their industry, and become more educated about bees and what they need to thrive. Who knows? You may just end up with a new hobby!
There are lots of ways you can help save the bees. Avoiding pesticides, planting flowers, allowing wildflowers to bloom, supporting local beekeepers, and learning more about beekeeping are all great places to start. By making just a few small changes, you can help make your part of the world a healthier, happier place for bees… and for yourself!