By now, the majority of the population knows that something is up with bees. We know that we need to be saving them … leading most to understand that bees are in some sort of danger. That guess, of course, is correct, and indeed, the honeybees in the USA, as they have in other countries, are disappearing in mass quantities.
Blame has yet to settle uncomfortably on any one set of shoulders but suffice it to say that most of the fingers are pointing towards Big Ag, everything from pesticides to mono-cropping to shipping bees across the country for pollination. Regardless, the call for help is now spreading wide and far, so as concerned citizens of the world, and fans of vegetables and fruits (most of which are pollinated by bees), we can take it upon ourselves to do something for the bees.
The beauty of this whole thing is that we can help the bees from right at home.
Plant a Garden
What bees need to keep kicking is honey, and the way they make that honey is by collecting pollen. And, they get said pollen from flowers, and those flowers can – and should – be on a wide assortment of flowering plants, be them vegetable, fruit, medicinal or simply ornamental.
One of the suspected issues with bee disappearances is that the massive expanses of mono-culture crops mean that, outside of season, there are no flowers from which bees can get pollen. Give bees a diverse collection of flora to harvest from year-round, and they’ll set up shop and thrive. Plus, it’ll mean you’ve got food and beauty all over the place.
Curb the Chemicals
Once more, chemical pesticides, herbicides, and other a-cides have also been linked to problems that bees and other pollinators are experiencing. Even the stuff that claims to have no negative effects should be crossed off the list, as should organic pesticides, which might also hurt undeserving bees.
Since that massive lawn will be shifting to a garden, the best way to avoid needing fertilizers and chemical pest control is to get wise on companion planting. There is information all over the Internet, including right here on One Green Planet, about using plants that help each other.
Build a Bee Hotel
Lots of people are becoming interested in having their own beehives, often with the intention to collect and consume or sell the honey. For some of us, this is beyond our spectrum of interest, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give the bees a place to stay. There are loads of simple and secure ways to bee-friendly habitats, and they look really cool.
Bug hotels are a fun project to do at home, and with a little extra consideration, they can be specifically aimed at creating nice spaces for bees, especially bees that don’t necessary dig the hive situation. For solitary bees, a contained stack of logs and wood with holes drilled, between two and ten millimeters wide, in them is perfect. This will attract wild bees, such as mason bees, that like to live alone.
Buy Local, Organic Food
Well, logic would say that if we are setting up our homes to be dazzling with diverse plant-life and we are avoiding chemicals and pesticides on our lawns, we’d want our food to come from similar environments. So, if our own health and the health of the environment at large weren’t enough reason to shop locally, the bees will benefit as well.
Farmers’ markets are stocked with loads of seasonal produce (flowering year-round), and these days it’s easy to find organic selections as well. Do your best to buy ethically grown food and realize that an extra quarter a pound might make a huge difference in the long run. Those of us who can afford it should make the effort.
And, that, Green Monsters, is the buzz on bees and how we might lend them a little lift right from the comfort of home. The amazing part of it all is that we get something from it all as well: healthier food, cleaner environmental and quirky yard ornaments. Why wouldn’t we help them?
Lead image source: Kabir/Wikimedia Commons