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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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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 farmersí 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.

235 comments

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6:15PM PST on Dec 19, 2014

Thank you!

8:05PM PST on Dec 10, 2014

I let my basil flower just so I watch them when I go to pick herbs, and they don't bother you at all!

9:30AM PDT on Sep 19, 2014

I have an Audubon book on Insects from 1982 an d it states " Hundreds of vital fruits and vegetables depend on Bees and should Bees disappear, so will these vital foods. So it is not something new, we need our bees to survive

1:28AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

Thank you

12:29PM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

The problem with us consuming honey, whether or not local, is that it is food for the honey bees. Some apiaries replace the honey they remove from the hives with high fructose corn syrup. We all know that can't be good. As much as I like consuming natural sweeteners, I've given up honey. I urge you all to do the same. Thanks for your efforts!

2:51PM PDT on May 9, 2014

Great share!!!

4:34PM PDT on May 5, 2014

There is plenty of food for bees... the real issue is that the water, vital for their existence, is being compromised by agrochemical from fungicides, herbicides and pesticides (collectively I refer to them as Pesticides) which are the leading cause of water contamination. Of the 2.5% of water that is fresh on our planet ONLY 0.07% is available to life because the rest is inaccessible to it. Of the water that is available, 70% is poisoned by agrochemical another 20% by industry. #StopPesticides is the ONLY way to #SaveOurBees.

2:21PM PDT on May 5, 2014

I would say please DO NOT buy the generic wildflower mixes. Those mixes are full of more non-native plants the rest of your local food web cannot use. Bees are one part of your local ecology and food web. Buy and grow plants native to your region. There are companies like Everwilde Farms and Prairie Moon Nursery that sell native wildflower seeds and plants. When you plant please stick with natives--there are loads of other local extinctions happening because of how we landscape. Reduce grass and plant native plants and grow your food and follow the other steps above.

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.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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