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7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees

7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees

The bad news is that our honey bees are dying. U.S. bee keepers lost a shocking 31% of their hives this winter, as they have for the past seven years in a row. Although the exact causes of Colony Collapse Disorder are not 100% certain, what is crystal clear is that we’re speeding towards the disastrous point at which we will not have enough bees to pollinate our crops.

The good news is that there are a number of easy (even enjoyable) ways YOU can help honey bees to survive and, hopefully, to thrive. And none of them involve rushing out to buy protective mesh clothing and a smoke can!

Here are seven simple ways to help out our favorite pollinators.

1. Add your name to the petition urging the EPA and USDA to ban neonicotinoids, a widely used class of agricultural pesticides that is highly toxic to bees and believed to play a crucial role in colony collapse disorder. The EU has just enacted a ban on neonicotinoids and we must follow Europe’s lead as there is literally no time to waste.

Honey bee covered in pollen in a dandelion flower

2. Let dandelions and clover grow in your yard. Dandelions and clover are two of the bees’ favorite foods – they provide tons of nourishment and pollen for our pollinators to make honey and to feed their young (look at this bee frolicking in a dandelion below – like a pig in shit!) And these flowers could not be any easier to grow – all you have to do is not do anything.

3. Stop using commercial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers – these chemicals are harmful to the bees. And they’re also harmful to you, your family, and our soil and water supply, too. Definitely not worth it!

Stop using RoundUp - a toxic weed killer4. Eat more honey and buy it from a local bee keeper. This is a pretty sweet way to help the bees (sorry, I can never resist a good pun.) Unlike big honey companies, local bee keepers tend to be much more concerned about the health of their bees than they are about their profits. And their products do not have to travel far to reach your kitchen, either. You can almost always find local honey at your farmers’ market and it may also be available at your local health food or grocery store. It may cost a little more than the commercial options, but it’s well worth it.

Fresh honey comb5. Plant bee-friendly flowers. This not only helps the honey bees, it will also make your yard more beautiful and can also provide you with a bunch of great culinary herbs.

In addition to the dandelions and clover I mentioned above, bees love many other flowers, including: bee balm, borage, asters, lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, honey suckle, poppies, sunflowers, marigolds, salvia, butterfly bush, clematis, echinacea (see the bee partaking of some coneflower goodness below) blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, fennel, yellow hyssop, milkweed, goldenrod, and many more.

Honey bee drinking nectar from a coneflower
You can also just buy one of those pre-mixed packets of wildflowers with good results. And, if you’re ever in doubt, choose native plants as they will be best suited to the climate you live in and can help support the bees throughout the season.

6. Buy organic. Organic food and fibers like cotton and hemp are produced without the use of commercial pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, making them inherently more bee-friendly than conventionally grown products.USDA Organic label

7. Share this post with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to help build more “buzz” for honey bees.

 

You might also like these posts from the Greening Your Kitchen series:

Greening Your Kitchen by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? “Like” the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Related
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Bee-Friendly Landscaping
7 Reasons to Stop Eating Honey

Read more: Blogs, Conscious Consumer, Desserts, Do Good, Eco-friendly tips, Environment, Food, Garden of Eating, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Lawns & Gardens, Make a Difference, Natural Pest Control, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Activities, , , , , , , ,

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Eve Fox

Eve is the creator of The Garden of Eating, a blog about food--cooking it, eating it, and growing it. She has a legendary love of aprons and can often be found salivating over the fruits and veggies at one of the many farmers’ markets near her home in Woodstock, NY. Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? "Like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow Eve on Twitter or Pinterest.

227 comments

+ add your own
12:29AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

Love honeybees! I've never seen them as a pest. I'm redoing my garden again this year and plan to plant a lot of bee friendly flowers.

4:52PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

1:47AM PST on Nov 26, 2013

Thank you Eve :)
I try my best. Me and some friends, beekepers... Difficult though. When everything at least in Greece against you...but we insist...we try...
Thank you :)

2:00AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Thanks

11:15AM PDT on Jul 10, 2013

It's thanks to pressure on the EU governments from Avaaz~ and the UK petition site 38 degrees has been running a petition that involved sending letters to each of the UK's Members of Parliament that we now have an EU wide ban on these toxic pesticides. But pressure world wide is needed and it helps to write to your own local representative.38 Degrees allows you to enter your address and brings up the name of the MP you need to write to and then sends it to the relevant bod.When they all started to get their mail boxes choked with emails and letters and phone calls started building up on the first major protest aginst selling off England's public forests to private individuals it caused quite a stir and there has been some sucessful outcomes as they organise stunts,or run an ad in the press or arrange a group to turn up and protest.
I and others like me contribute money monthly to fund their running costs as they have no advertising onsite,it's well worth it!

6:03PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Hi all, so happy to see so much support for honey bees (and all the other creatures which will benefit from more flowers and less poisons, of course.) Just to respond to @violet S.'s comment about cotton, I was aware that the vast majority of what is grown is not organic - see suggestion #6. To those who've suggested that we eat less honey since it is not meant for us, I believe that it's unrealistic to expect bee keepers to continue to care for bees without selling some of their honey. And bees need bee keepers to do well, at least, as far as I can tell from what I've learned. So I think that buying and eating honey is not necessarily a bad thing (but I am also not a vegan and respect those of you who hold other views.)

5:41AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

Thanks!

2:24AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

I do worry about the bee situation. My garden is left natural and nothing sprayed. I enjoy watching the bees on all the flowers.

9:31PM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

Thank you so much!

10:25AM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

I also cut those pool noodles in half and let about 10 of them float around in the pool in case a bee falls in the water. I do regular bee checks here in AZ for the pool as they come for a drink. Also I read that if you find a shady spot on concrete and either put in a fountain or let the hose drip just enough to form a tiny sq. foot pool, or put the end of the hose in a flat dish; the bees will get use to coming there to drink instead of drowning. I just feel so bad when I fish out a dead bee.
Everyone can have a container garden dedicated to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Just do it. So easy.

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