What is it about the honeybee community that draws humans into their world? Watch this informative breakdown of bee experience, bee-human relations and, most pressing, the threats to bees today (skip to 5:50 for threats):
Bees are cooperative, intuitive, hard-working, living beings whose labor is exploited for its fruits (superfood honey). The process of human-bee interaction, the human chemical-agricultural input changes, monocultures and the fact that “we’ve stopped planting cover crops” for soil fertilizers and bee food, all equal major consequences for bees worldwide.
Humans have helped, in some way or another, to create, enable and excel bee population destruction. We’ve done this by not planting bee-attracting crops, using pesticides/herbicides/insecticides and other agricultural chemical inputs that leach the soil of nutrients, destroy crops, create superweeds and superbugs and eventually poison and starve bees. We’ve also done this collectively through honey production and transporting bees to pollinate human-desired mass amounts of crops like almonds. We have been planting more and more crops for the dwindling number of bees to pollinate. They’re tired. They’re sick. They’re literally dropping dead from pollinating our food: when will it be enough? Marla Spivak gets the audience to consider these questions: when will these toxins begin harming humans at this lethal level and what are they doing to humans on a small scale level in the meantime, too?
It’s not all lost though; we can turn this around. As Spivak says in the video above, food deserts don’t have to be the future of food. She states that humans can help bees in two direct ways: planting bee-friendly flowers and not polluting them with chemical toxins like pesticides. You can also help bees by leaving their honey alone (they need it more than humans do), supporting a bee sanctuary or creating your own, always taking the opportunity to vote and get active in the fights against these bee-killing poisons and practices, too. Speak up for bees!
Here are four flowers bees need you to plant now.
Best when planted in fall (September or October), these beautiful, tall flower pods will bloom within the next year. This provides quick food for bees in need. Simply sprinkle the seeds on top of some rich, warm soil and cover ever so lightly with a fine layer of the soil. Make sure the seeds can feel the sun and receive full light when germinating. Thereafter, full sun or partial shade will do. These flowers come in a variety of stunning, bee-attracting colors, make for excellent garden decor and will return each year for several years.
2. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
This perennial flower’s bud literally pushes itself toward the sun, providing easy access for bees to land and have a snack. It’s no wonder then that gardeners get the best flowers and best food for bees by planting purple cone flowers in full sun. What’s more? These flowers are drought resistant, making them good for the not-so-green-thumbed gardener. For more on how to grow these, check here.
3. Shasta Daisies
The composite shape of the shasta is what draws bees in. It is also what makes these such efficient methods of helping bees. Bees will land on the big yellow pad we know as the centre of the flower. Here, there are hundreds of much smaller flowers that form a tight round cluster called an inflorescence. It is when the bee walks across these tiny flowers that its body is covered in pollen. This pollen then is redistributed amongst flowers to create food for bees and humans alike.
4. Sedum Spectabile “Brilliant”
An easy flower to grow, this hardy perennial will feed more than just bees, too. It is known to attract butterflies with its showy or “brilliant” flower pod heads. These blooms will begin in August (plant now!) and carry on into the cooler months.
Please note, always try to plant native species to your own location. What the bees in one gardening zone like will not necessarily match in another location. Happy gardening!
Image source: Maciej A. Czyzewski/Wikimedia