What Can You Do to Help the Bees?
Honeybees are responsible of pollinating more than 30% of our food supply. If you like apples, squashes, watermelon, cucumbers, cauliflower, strawberries, mangos, cherries, almonds, raspberries, peaches, eggplant, tomatoes, well…you get the idea, you can help!
How? Just think…
- A hive has just made it through a long cold winter. In need of pollen and nectar, the bees use dandelions as their first real food source since the previous fall. Rather than running out to spread weed killer on the lawn, why not let the dandelions bloom and later reap the reward of honeybees increasing your flower blooms and a more bountiful veggie garden? The same goes for the beautiful white clover in your lawn. Clover used to be thought of as ornamental until the lawn companies realized they could kill the clover while not affecting the grass. Everyone loves clover honey. Why not let the lawn grow for an extra week or 2 until other plants bloom and attract the bees? Sometimes, during a dearth, clover may be the only real food source available to the bees.
- Speaking of spraying or spreading weed killers, if you feel you must do so, please be kind and let your local backyard beekeeper know when you plan to do it. He or she can then restrict their bees to the hive that day so there is less chance of the bees being poisoned as the spray is applied. Nothing is sadder than finding hundreds or thousands of dead honey bees in front of a hive due to poisoning.
- Ever notice the peas, corn or other vegetable and flower seeds you plant are covered with purple coating? Quite possibly that is one of the neonicotinoids I mentioned earlier that is believed by many to be part of the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. The European Union has stopped the use of these chemicals for the next several years as they further study the harmful effects on honeybees. Meanwhile, in the US, the EPA has it’s head up its, er….has yet to send this class of pesticides back for further study. Your local seed supplier may still be selling seed coated with these chemicals. You need to read the package to make sure the flowers and veggies you are planting to help the bees are not actually harming them. These chemicals are systemic and have a residual toxicity that not only gets into the pollen but also into the soil and lasts up to 3 years. Organic seed does not have these chemicals on it. You can still use your fertilizers but please make sure to read the label to make sure what you are using is not toxic to honeybees or other native pollinators.
- Ask your town road agent not to cut the weeds and wildflowers on the side of the road so often. That is prime foraging for pollinators.
- Plant native wildflower seeds. Plants such as asters, wild lupine, wild geraniums, etc. are great sources of nutrition for bees, especially in the fall when they are trying to store enough honey for winter.