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Think the honeybee crisis is old news? Think again. To give you an idea of how crucial bees are to our lives, here are some fast facts from Greenpeace: 70 of the top 100 food crops worldwide are pollinated by bees, and these mighty insects take care of about 80 percent of pollination worldwide. A huge portion of our country’s food supply — fruits, veggies and almonds — is possible because of these pollinators.
Unfortunately, in the past decade or so, 30 percent of the national bee population has vanished, and almost a third of all bee colonies in the U.S. have died. To make matters worse, the declining bee population is only accelerating thanks to the rise of colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon in which majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and “leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Now that we’ve established the threat against these incredible working machines, and how important they are to our ecosystem, food supply and economy (bees pollinate around $15 billion worth of U.S. crops annually!), let’s talk about how we can save them.
Plant Bee Friendly Flowers
Be sure to fill your garden with a diverse of group plants, especially with those native to where you live, that can offer bees what they need the most: pollen and nectar. Shoot for a variety, as planting one flower type might only provide food once during that flower’s blossoming cycle. It’s important to make sure there’s always something blooming throughout the year — bees need to feed year-round. The best flowers for bees are single flower tops, which include marigolds and daisies, as these give bees the easiest access to their pollen.
Help Bees Hydrate
As all species, bees need water to stay alive. In your garden or balcony, leave out a small saucer or birdbath filled with water and be sure to include some rocks or objects for them to perch on while they quench their thirst. Oh and don’t put any sugar in the water, they get plenty of sweetness from the nectar they consume.
Steer Clear Of Pesticides
It shouldn’t come as a shock that chemically laced substances such as pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides could kill your bee buddies. If you need to use any of these garden treatments, be sure to use only the organic variety and do your best to spray at night when the bees are less active. Other alternatives include bringing beneficial insects into your garden to help with pesky bugs. The ladybug, for example, can eat around 50 to 60 aphids a day, and also get rid of nuisances like mealy bugs and mites.
“With bee populations declining, it’s more important than ever to keep our homes pesticide-free,” Amanda Shaw, beekeeper at Waggle Works told Buzzfeed. “Bees exist in urban environments, so the forage that they find in people’s yards is critical to their nutrition. Plants that are treated with pesticides are extremely harmful to bees, and even low doses of tainted pollen/nectar can build up in a beehive over time and lead to neurological issues and whole colony collapse.”
Support Local Farmers
In addition to keeping our gardens pesticide free, we should also strive to keep our everyday lives pesticide free, too. Reducing pesticide use as much as possible will help the bees in the longer run. An easy way to do this is buying locally produced, organic groceries.
Provide Bee Accommodations
Did you know that certain bee species don’t live in hives? Help these solitary bee species feel at home with a bee hotel, nest, home or condo. You can order them online or even build one yourself. Other options include drilling holes in dead tree trunks or logs, which will give these bees places to live and nest in peace. Solitary bees lay eggs in small holes, so in providing these bee hotels, you’re helping to grow the population.
Buy Local Honey
Buying honey products from local beekeepers helps to support those who have the bees’ best interest at heart. Knowledgeable beekeepers are pros at keeping their bees alive and healthy, and they’re committed to growing the bee population as a whole.
Time to get buzz-y saving the bees!