Honeybees are in trouble. Each year they continue to die off at an alarming rate. One in three bites of food you consume is due to a honeybee. Only recently have scientist started studying bees, when they soon realized that they are headed toward possible extinction. There are many potential reasons why the bees are dying. Some believe that it is a class of pesticides called neonictinoids, other believe that exposure to environmental chemicals weakens their immune systems and causes neurological damage. Some blame the varroa mites and small hive beetles. The hypotheses are numerous.
Even if you don’t keep bees you can certainly help them in and around your yard. There are little steps that make a huge difference in these tiny workers’ lives. In fact, it can even help your gardens and yard to grow and thrive by allowing not only the bees but other beneficial bugs, butterflies and other pollinators to safely live in their environments.
By removing natural fields and weeds and replacing them with lush, green, weed -free lawns, we have removed vast amounts of land where honeybees thrived. If possible, allow the meadows to return. Clover is one of the honeybee’s favorite flowers and it readily grows in the healthiest of lawns. Why not consider letting your lawn grow patches of clover and let it bloom? Dandelions are also a spring time favorite of theirs too. Dandelions tell them that warmer weather is arriving. Often the dandelions are the first blooms upon which they feed after a long winter contained in their hives. Do you fertilize your lawn? Try using an organic lawn fertilizer made from chicken manure readily available at most garden centers.
Whether it is herbicides or pesticides you should start reading the labels. Specifically seek out information whether or not the chemicals you are using are harmful to bees. This information is often hidden in the fine print but is required to be there by law. Research alternative methods to battle the bugs and weeds including white vinegar, cayenne pepper and insecticidal soaps. Also, just because a product is organic it does not mean that it cannot harm honeybees and other pollinators.
Hours and Timing of Application
Apply products to plants when they are not blooming if possible. Honeybees will not spend time on a plant without blooms. Apply the products during the very early morning hours or at dusk. During these times honeybees are more likely to be in their hives verses outside in the garden. Remember, honeybees never sleep and can see in the dark!
Honeybees are most attracted to purple blooms. They love Russian Sage, Lavender, purple Butterfly bushes, Coneflowers (Echinacea), and Liatris to name a few.
Last year, the US lost approximately 40% of their hives during the winter. This set a new devastating record. The honey bees are in trouble. Explore becoming a beekeeper or allowing a beekeeper to place a hive or two on your property.
Be Politically Active
Follow the current bills at the local, state and federal levels that are helping to research colony collapse disease, determine what is causing the death of bees, and help to stabilize their populations. The bees can’t speak for themselves but you certainly can!