Top Five Ways You Can Help Save the Bees by Kristen Pierce
As most of our following knows, Network Connections and The Arcadia Triangle are huge supporters of the Save the Bees initiative. Last year we had the wonderful opportunity to partner with the Planet Bee Foundation to help spread the word about the bee crisis. Why are honey bees disappearing? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has a number of causes and takes a number of forms. Anything from parasites, pesticides, or disease can lead to the decline. We learned quite a bit about it along the way, and with Earth Day coming up this weekend (April 22nd), here are some important things to know about how YOU can help to save the bees in your own backyard:
5. Support Local Farmers and Beekeepers
Eating a diversity of foods that are grown locally will help encourage farmers to maintain an assortment of crops. This can give the bees more pollen options and can help boost their health, so farmers who plant cover crops and surround their fields with flower borders are giving the bees more to eat. Help support the effort for agricultural diversity by eating lots of different foods and local honey to keep these efforts going. As an extra bonus, local honey can greatly help those suffering from seasonal pollen allergies!
4. Say no to pesticides
Pesticides can have disastrous effects for the bees, from simply disorienting them so they can’t get back to the hive to killing them on contact. Opt for natural alternatives at your own home and shop for produce that has been grown pesticide-free. Not only can pesticides be toxic to bees, but also are best not introduced to children or adults that visit your garden. Leave pesticides off your wildflowers for bees to feast. Also, ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises will naturally keep pest populations in check.
3. “Let dandelions grow”
“Let dandelions grow” says Tim May, vice president of the American Beekeeping Foundation. What many people see as weeds, bees see as food. Dandelions are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and bees gravitate to it. The dandelion’s peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and other pollinators emerge from hibernation. Each flower consists of up to 100 florets, individually packed with nectar and pollen. This early, easily available source of food is a lifesaver for pollinators in spring. Fun fact: The young leaves are edible for humans too, and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, and the roots can be ground into a coffee substitute. Just leave some for the pollinators!
2. Plant Wildflowers
Bees feed on flowers. Pollen supplies them with all of their protein, while nectar gives them the carbohydrates they need. But the diversity of plants available to them has been dwindling. You can do your part by planting native, bee-friendly flowers where you live. Some wonderful plants that bees love include Lavandula spp. (Lavender), Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary), Salvia spp. (Sage), Echinacea spp. (Coneflower), and Helianthus spp. (Sunflower). But do your research first! Make sure that whichever wildflower you choose is also native to your area. To help you decide visit https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/.
1. Spread the word
If each of us made an effort to do our part, the ripple effects could be huge. Talk to your family, your friends and your neighbors and encourage them to do their part. Have kids? Teach them about these incredible insects, plant a garden together and raise the next generation of bee crusaders. We’re all in this together: If we take care of the bees, they’ll take care of us.
To learn more about why we need bees, visit https://www.planetbee.org/why-we-need-bees/. And while you are there, please donate to their cause!