As their worldwide decline continues to cause concern, it's safe to say that these are certainly stressed times for the bee population. While there are many factors that contribute to their low numbers, pesticide use has been called out as the number one culprit, followed close behind by loss of habitat, climate change, and disease.
All over the world, the bees are disappearing, which is devastating the food industry because so many crops that we eat rely on their cross-pollinating power. However, there is hope for them, and it starts at home. Below are eight things you can do to help stimulate your local bee population....
8 Ways to Help the Local Bee Population:
- Leave them alone: Bees do not attack unless provoked. Therefore, there isn’t any reason to swat at them or spray them with bug spray or even to run in fear. If you leave the bees alone, they will do the same. Walk away from hives and give them space when they are pollinating.
- Plant a pollinator garden: A pollinator garden is one that contains flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and other such pollinators. You can start one in your backyard, or manage a selection of herbs on your windowsill. Lavender, hyacinth, asters, goldenrod, wild lilac and bee balm are good choices for attracting bees. Here are some more creative ways to create a garden in a small space.
- Build a Bee Sanctuary: Solitary bees like to burrow and nest in holey barks and blocks of wood. You can build them a sanctuary in a desolate area in your backyard. There you will leave the grass untouched, grow bee-friendly wild flowers and hang a variety of bee houses for them to choose between. Your bee sanctuary should be clearly marked so friends and family do not disturb them or get hurt.
- Grow some crops: Starting a crop garden in your backyard is one of the healthiest ways to help the local bee population. You will attract bees while also providing yourself and your family with nutritious produce. Growing your own crops will also save you money at the grocery store and can make you some money at local farmers' markets and roadside stands.
- Support local organic farmers: Supporting local organic farmers is synonymous with stimulating the local bee population. Organic farmers know the value of bees and work with them to stimulate the healthiest crops. There are no harsh chemicals or GMO’d additives involved with organic farming, which keeps the pollinators healthy and free to do their thing. Additionally, supporting local farmers helps to strengthen the community.
- Become eco-friendly: Make an effort to become greener; go through the drawers in your house and get rid of all the chemicals you use. Ditch the pesticides, bug sprays, air fresheners and household cleaners. Such chemicals contain toxins that contribute to poor air quality and climate change. Other things you can do to be more eco-friendly include walking/biking more, recycling and composting.
- Advocate for the bees: Join communities that help stimulate the bee population and advocate by spreading the word on their importance. You can sign petitions and hand out pamphlets on the importance of bees and also take to social media to find other bee-friends to help their numbers.
- Become a beekeeper: The first thing that you need to do is to get involved with your local beekeeper association. Next, you should educate yourself on the ins and outs of beekeeping. You can take beekeeping classes and read manuals. From there, you will learn about the equipment you need and find out where to get the bees. Then, before you know it, you will be beekeeping like an expert. In addition to stimulating the local population of bees, you will also be harvesting nutritious, raw honey.
To make a worldwide impact on the bee population, you and I must first make changes at home, then our efforts will spread and their numbers will begin to increase.
Author: Christy Erickson (SavingOurBees.org)