Bees are a major piece to our existence puzzle. Without them, there is no food and no food means no us. Our selfish human ways have taken a tole on many pieces of our planet and the bees have suffered greatly for it.
Never fear though! It’s not too late to turn the tide and change our ways. Major change starts with me and you, doing what we can to make a difference for the greater good of us all.
By: Maggie Haseman
1. Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers and Flowering Herbs
All around the world, bees are losing their habitat due to:
- Intensive monoculture-based farming practices
- Flower-barren sprawling suburban areas
- Destruction of native landscapes
Just by planting flowers in your garden, yard, or even in a planter will help provide bees with forage.
DON’T chemically treat your flowers, chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bee’s systems.
DO plant the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage.
DO find a list of plants native to your area online. Here’s a good place to start.
2. Allow Dandelions and Clovers
Bees LOVE a lawn full of “weeds”! Dandelion, clover and other wildflowers, which we might classify as weeds, are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees. Let your lawn get a little wild and create a haven for honeybees (and other native pollinators too).
In some cases, weeds are not welcome in our yards. If you chose to get rid of some of these weeds, consider letting them bloom first for the bees and then, before it goes to seed, pull it out or trim it back.
— 🦄 Mumbles & Things (@MumbleThings) May 11, 2017
3. Avoid Chemicals or Pesticides
Yes, they make your lawn look nice, but they’re actually causing harm to the life in your biosphere. Many commercial pest treatments cause damage to honeybees neural systems. Not only do these treatments harm bees, they harm humans too, especially if applied while the flowers are in bloom. It gets into the pollen and nectar and is taken back to the bee hive where it also gets into the honey.
4. Buy Local, Raw Honey
You vote with your dollar, especially in a capitalist society. This holds true for the honey you buy. Make an effort to buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals, and send a clear message to beekeepers about how you expect them to treat their bees.
Here’s a few guidelines:
If you find it in the grocery store and it’s imported from China, don’t buy it.
If it’s coming from the grocery store, but it doesn’t say the words “pure” or “raw” and you can’t read in the description that it’s untreated by chemicals, don’t buy it.
Here’s a simple solution:
There are beekeepers at nearly every farmer’s market. Find them, shake hands with them, have a conversation with them. Learn about their honey and other products they are selling. Find out about their hives and how they keep their bees. If they are sustainable beekeepers who treat their bees with respect, then make a new friend and support them!
Something to remember:
In order to receive USDA Organic certification, beekeepers must keep their bees in an area where there is no chemical spray within 3 miles. This can be nearly impossible and often expensive, which is why talking to beekeepers is important. Just because there’s no “organic” label does not always mean it’s “not worth your time”.
5. Put Fresh Water Out
Did you know bees get thirsty? Once you’ve planted your new garden of native plants, wildflowers and flowering herbs, you’ll have many new visitors who are working hard to pollinate your flowers. Simply put a little basin of water out for them to drink from. A bird bath with some stones in it for them to crawl on is perfect!
6. Buy Local, Organic Food
As with the honey, make sure the rest of your food is local and organic. To buy local you will need to eat seasonally. You could find a local farmer to purchase food from, that way you know if that food is coming from a monoculture or not.
Here are some tips:
In the summer, you can get your fresh produce from a local farmer’s market.
In the winter (and other seasons), you can get your food from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm.
Something to Remember:
You may find many great farmers with excellent food that isn’t USDA certified simply because they don’t produce a high quantity or opt for the expense of certification. Don’t let this get in the way of supporting them and if you’re worried about their products—have a conversation with them.
7. Become a Sustainable Beekeeper
There are resources across the planet for local bee associations that offer classes with natural and sustainable approaches. Find one in your community and link up. You can google them or search for Facebook Groups!
It’s full of knowledge to help you connect to the magic of this world as well as tips on how to help it!
8. Understand Honeybees
Honeybees are vegetarians. All they want is to forage pollen and nectar from flowers and bring that food back to provide food for themselves and the beehive.
Here are a few tips to avoid getting stung:
Many bees will land on you to investigate. Stay still and calm if a bee is around you or lands on you. The pheromones that come with fear and anger can trigger them to sting you.
Don’t stand in front of a hive opening, or in a pathway to a concentration of flowers. Busy bees are flying back and forth from the hive, and if you don’t get in their way, they won’t be worried about you.
Learn to differentiate between honeybees and wasps (or other similar critters). Click here for a quick lesson on the differences.
9. Share With Your Community
There are so many fun ways to help and be a voice for the bees. Attend local community meetings, conferences, schools, universities and on-line message boards and forums. Share about the importance of bees with your friends, family and social media!
10. Talk to Congress
Change has to happen from the top-down as well as from the bottom-up. Making donations and helping the bees in your community is wonderful. Do more by helping bees become federally protected. Sign petitions and call your representatives to let them know you want to save the bees. (Here’s one)
BONUS Purchase a Bracelet!
Each purchase from the “Save the Bees!” collection on Mumbles & Things will result in a donation to Save the Honeybees Foundation. This organization works toward educating the public about pollinators, researching solutions for helping them and protecting their natural habitat from threats. Every time you wear your bracelet, you are raising awareness and you can be proud that you helped make a difference!
About the Author:
Maggie Haseman is an Environmental Educator at an outdoor school in Vancouver, WA. She is passionate about teaching others about the natural world and the way humans interact with it. In addition to teaching, Maggie is a designs and sells jewelry using crystals that enhance the well being of the body, mind, and spirit.