If you haven’t heard of colony collapse disorder by now, the phenomenon refers to what is primarily a mysterious disappearance of honeybee colonies throughout North America. The theories about what causes colony collapse disorder are myriad—the Varroa Mite, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, the gut parasite Nosema, pesticide poisoning, stress and changes in habitat top the list. But one thing is for sure, many people are doing everything they can to save the bees.
You don’t have to keep bees to join the fight to protect them. Here are a few things you can do.
Add Bee-Friendly Plants to Your Backyard
Bees feed on the nectar and pollen found in flowers. However, some flowers are more attractive to bees than others. For instance, they prefer blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers. And according to the National Wildlife Federation, bees prefer native plants to invasive or exotic ones. Because tubular flowers are prohibitive for some bees because their tongues can’t reach the nectar, add flowers of different shapes and sizes to accommodate the different species of bees. Also, plant the flowers in clumps to make it easier for the bees to hover from one flower to the next. Check out our list of flowers that attract bees.
Provide Water for Bees
Many folks don’t think of bees needing water, but they do. However, they aren’t able to hover over the water to drink and will drown in something like a dog bowl. To help save the bees, provide a tray or birdbath of water with rocks in it for them to rest on.
You can use any container you have around to put your bees’ water in. But if you want to go all out, build your own backyard pond, fountain, or water garden. Just make sure to choose one that allows water to pool up around the rocks so the bees have something to sit on while they’re sipping.
Avoid Using Pesticides in Your Yard
Maybe you just want to kill the Japanese beetles eating your roses, but, if the bees are exposed to the pesticide you spray for the beetles, the bees will die, too. A healthy alternative would be to plant geraniums among the roses. Japanese beetles will eat the geraniums which contain a paralyzing substance. Once rendered temporarily immobile, the beetle is susceptible to predators. Savvy backyard gardeners use companion planting to repel many other harmful pests. Marigolds, mint and lavender are a few to consider.
Build a Bee Hotel
Native bees live in the most amazing places. Broken bramble canes, bamboo and small spaces in a barn. Because of the loss of natural habitats, many native bees are suffering. You can save the bees by providing a place for them to nest. You can purchase a native bee house or you can make your own using a coffee can and tubes of rolled up paper. Different bees require tubes of different diameter, so do some research for the bees that live in your area.
A bee hotel makes a great gift for the gardener in your life. Here are 26 gift ideas, every gardener would love.
Buy Local and Organic
Your dollars have a loud voice when it comes to making a difference. If you only buy organic produce, you say to food producers that you don’t want the use of bee-harmful chemicals in our ecosystem. If you buy local, particularly honey, you not only reduce your carbon footprint but you do business with smaller beekeepers who take pride in their work and care for their bees.
Become a Beekeeper!
Bees provide our food by pollinating crops like fruits and vegetables, their activity is energizing to watch, and the honey they produce is a sweet reward. While not for the faint-of-heart, beekeeping is a rewarding hobby that can lead to a nice little side business, if you’re interested in recouping some of your investment. So, if you’re interested in learning more about keeping bees, contact your local extension service to see if beekeeping classes are offered in your area. In the meantime, read these backyard beekeeping tips.
Did you know that a healthy honeybee colony can have as many as 80,000 bees in it? Here are nine more crazy things you didn’t know about bees.
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