How to Save The Bees from Your Own Backyard #WeCanBeeHeroes
Ever wonder how you can help save the bees? We’ve partnered with beekeeper and educator Hilary Kearney, also known as Girl Next Door Honey, to share her expertise on how to bee a hero to our important pollinators. Here are a few easy, practical tips to help honey bees thrive from your own backyard and beyond:
As a beekeeper, I’m always advising people on how to best help the bees, but you don’t have to become a beekeeper to make the world a better place for our bee friends. Read on for a handy list of how to support bees in your city.
Grow Bee-friendly Flowers
One the best and most enjoyable ways to support bees is to provide food for them by planting a bee-friendly garden. Bees sustain themselves with the pollen and nectar they collect from flowers. When they have a wealth of flowers available to them, they are healthier and better able to survive. You can help bees by transforming outdoor spaces into flowering bee havens. Even if you don’t have a yard of your own, you may be able to grow potted flowers on a balcony, seed a sidewalk parkway or influence your neighbors to plant for bees!
Plant Flowering Trees
A mature tree provides millions of flowers for bees in one convenient location year after year. Most species of bees practice floral constancy, meaning that they only visit one flower type per foraging trip and are attracted to large groupings of the same flowers. Trees are often the biggest source of food bees have and not only that, but they help to mitigate climate change and the harmful effects of air pollution.
Plant Native Plants
There are 20,000 different species of bees in the world and while some of them are generalist, like honey bees who visit many different kinds of flowers, others are specialists and will only visit certain kinds of plants. These bees often have relationships with plants native to their habitat so it’s important to include native plants when planting for bees.
Keep A Messy Garden
Not all bees live in a hive. Many species of solitary bees nest in dead plant stalks, rotting wood or in tunnels underground. So, the next time you are trimming the dead plants, leave some for the stalks for the bees. If you use mulch in the garden, be sure to leave some areas bare so the bees are able to access the soil to nest in. It also helps to leave some weeds for the bees. Weeds can be an important source of forage for bees in early spring.
In spring, honey bees swarm to make new colonies and can sometimes end up in inconvenient places. If a swarm lands in your backyard— don’t call the exterminator, call a beekeeper! Many beekeepers do bee rescues and can safely relocate bees to a new home.
Don’t Use Pesticides
The next time you encounter a pest problem in the garden, reach for a fertilizer instead of a pesticide. Many pest problems are the result of poor soil health. If you strengthen your plants by enriching the soil, you’ll often resolve your pest issue. A pesticide is only a temporary fix and the negative impact it has on bees is too high of a price. When selecting a fertilizer choose an organic option and avoid products that are described as “all-in-one care”, they often contain a pesticide as well as a fertilizer.
All animals need water to survive and bees are no exception. Honey bees also must collect water to cool their hives when the weather turns hot. Their biggest challenge is accessing the water without drowning. You can help by providing a bee-friendly water source. Create landing pads in your birdbath by adding some stones or create a wine barrel water garden with floating plants and mosquito fish.
Become A Bee Activist
Can you speak for the bees? Our bees are in trouble. Most scientist believe bees are being harmed by a combination of pesticides, habitat loss and climate change. You can help by becoming a bee activist. This may be as simple as teaching your community about how to help bees or as ambitious as petitioning your city to stop using pesticides. You might volunteer with a conservation group or participate in a citizen science project. You can make a difference for the bees!
All images courtesy Hilary Kearney @girlnextdoorhoney