Since we are beekeepers and the decline of honey bees has been in the news, we are asked what people can do to help. Here are some things you can do to help the bees!
Awareness of our declining bee population has initiated the public to preserve pollinators such as our star, the Honey Bee. Many companies are launching “save the bees” campaigns. Just this year Cheerios have away 1.5 billion wildflower seeds.
The honey bee contributes to a third of the country’s food supply. According to the Pollinator Partnership, the U.S. has lost over 50 percent of its managed honeybee colonies in the past 10 years. This sharp decline has been dubbed colony collapse disorder, which is defined as a series of symptoms, whose causes are still not fully understood. Scientists believe contributing factors include parasites, diseases, and exposure to pesticides.
A reduction of plant diversity due to commercial agriculture and habitat loss may also be affecting honeybees’ ability to get the full range of nutrients from more limited sources of nectar and pollen. Individuals and neighborhoods are also acting to help our buzzing friends. Many are starting their hives or planting gardens specifically for bees.
What to Plant
What plants are best for your garden and bees may be region and season specific. Plant flowers and shrubs native to your area. Bees are not as attracted to exotic plants as they are to regionally local flowering plants.
Plant flowers in clusters rather than dispersing them throughout your garden, making it easy for bees to see from far away.
Use flowers that are different sizes and shape. It will attract a variety of bees. Different species of bees have different tongue lengths and are attracted to flowers and plants based on such.
Early Season: Heather, Red-flowering currant, Rockcress, Lavender, Hyacinth, Crocus, Lilac, Calendula, Bluebell, Honeysuckle, Daffodil, Hawthorn, Snakes Head, Yarrow, Clematis
Late Season: Purple Aster, Sunflower, Autumn Joy, Alyssum, Borage, Horsemint, Black-eyed Susan, Goldenrods, Joe-Pye Weeds, Lion’s Tail
The longer the blooming season, the better! Lantana, Butterfly Bushes, Bee Balm, Alyssum can bloom from Spring to Fall.
What not to Plant
Make sure your plants are not pre-treated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides. Many retailers have recognized the public’s concern for keeping our pollinators safe and have moved toward more friendly bee practices. Home Depot, has announced that it has removed neonicotinoid pesticides, a leading driver of global bee declines, from 80 percent of its flowering plants and that it will complete its phase-out in plants by 2018. This announcement follows an ongoing campaign and letter by Friends of the Earth and allies urging Home Depot to stop selling plants treated with neonicotinoids and remove neonic pesticides from store shelves. Only use natural pesticides and fertilizers. Avoid using herbicides or pesticides in the garden. They not only can be toxic to bees but also are best not introduced to children or adults that visit your garden. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises will naturally keep pest populations in check.
Some plants are naturally toxic to bees! Rhododendron, Azalea, Trumpet Flower, Oleander, Yellow Jessamine, Mountain Laurel, Amaryllis
How to make a watering hole
Use wine corks or marbles in a water bowl, tub, container or vessel of some sort. Give them something to land on and take a drink without the risk of drowning. Perhaps place a large rock on an island in a tub of water, so they have a place to land. Bees are hard workers and need to keep hydrated