To bee or not to bee… the answer depends on the actions you take towards saving and protecting the world’s most important pollinator.
Bees have been dying at an alarming rate across the globe. In the United States, beekeepers lost a record 40% of their honeybee colonies in the winter of 2018. In Brazil, 500 million bees died at the hands of harsh pesticides in just three months of 2019.
With the decimation of bees comes cascading repercussions that affect everything from the cotton and skincare industries, the global economy, and one-third of our food supply.
If we want to keep bees from going extinct, then we each need to do our part and apply the following simple and effective steps:
1. Avoid pesticides
The chemicals in pesticides are not only harmful to bees and other pollinators, but to humans and pets as well. Instead of poisoning the planet, there are alternative methods for safer pest control, including the use of Bacillus thuringiensis, a soil-dwelling bacterium that is nontoxic to bees and mammals.
Neem oil, vinegar, and corn gluten meal are all natural, nontoxic repellants against a variety of pests.
If you do choose to use a chemical pesticide, read and follow all of the instructions carefully to minimize damage to beneficial insects.
2. Plant a bee-friendly garden
Whether you spare a patch of lawn or a window planter, your bee sanctuary can be as big or as small as you desire. Just make sure to fill it with non-hybrid, single bloomplants and weeds as they provide more nectar.
Some tried-and-true bee attractors include, but are not limited to, flowers such as lavenders, sunflowers, dahlias, crocuses, and goldenrods, and herbs and crops such as oregano, sage, strawberries, squash, and cucumbers.
3. Provide a water source
Bees need to hydrate after a hard day’s work just like humans, so a shallow container of fresh, clean water will be the perfect addition to your bee oasis. Toss in a few pebbles or wine corks so the bees have a place to land when they stop for a drink and do not drown.
If you spot a starving bee on the ground and there are no flowers nearby, you can pull out a Bee Saviour card to restore the exhausted fellow. The Bee Saviour card is a wallet-sized card that holds three sachets of sugar solution formulated by beekeepers to provide bees an energy boost. The cards are available for purchase on Etsy.
4. Start a hive
The truly devoted have the option of starting their own hive right in their own backyard. By providing bees a place to live, you will directly improve the health of both your new black-and-yellow friends and the surrounding area. Free honey and beeswax is an added benefit. Contact your local beekeeper for more information on this rewarding hobby.
5. Support beekeepers
If you would like to leave hives to the professionals, beekeepers are the best at nurturing bees and bettering the local environment. They often sell raw honey and beeswax products like candles, lip balm, and soap, all of which are rich with antioxidants and vitamins. Some farms even allow volunteers and interns to help out and get involved. LocalHoneyFinder.org is a helpful website to find apiaries in your state or country. To support a beekeeper is to support the ecosystem.
If we take even simple steps to save the bees, we subsequently save ourselves.