out there. Thanks to them we can explore the diversity of tastes ranging from goods like coffee, or chocolate, all the way to yummy fruits such as kiwis, or oranges. The role of bees in our food production system is irreplaceable. And yet the current situation in beehives is not very bright as bee populations are still rapidly declining worldwide because of Colony Collapse Disorder. This is caused due to exposure of bees to neonicotinoids, which are modern insecticides. The world needs bees and their precious work, and it is in our interest to prevent further loss of their colonies. Here is what you can do.
Open a bee restaurant!
In many places where intensive agriculture based on monoculture prevails, honeybees depend on flowers grown in gardens to enrich their diet and collect enough of nectar and pollen to secure their livelihood. Invite these precious pollinators to your garden by planting flowers they like. Especially attractive are flowers with bright colors, such as yellow, pink, blue or white. Perfect examples of bee-friendly plants are Echinacea, Lavender, Aster, Verbena, Winter Honeysuckle, Rosemary, Fuchsia, and Foxgloves¹.
When deciding on which kind of plants to put in your garden, make sure to combine early blossoming plants with the late blossoming ones, as different bee species have a different level of seasonal activity. And even if you do not have a garden, you can still keep flowers on a window sill to brighten your days and to nourish bees in your neighborhood.
Pesticides are not a solution
Pesticides are harmful for the environment and our health, but they are even worse for bees. The use of pesticides can have devastating impacts on a bee colony, causing loss of orientation, disabling bee workers from finding their way back to the hive, or even leading directly to their death. They are especially dangerous when sprayed on flowers in bloom because this way the chemicals fall on the pollen and nectar, where they get in the direct contact with bees. Bee workers take them unconsciously to the hives and produce honey with this unwanted chemical burden, making it unhealthy even for us.
If you want to save the bees and help decrease levels of pesticide pollution look first for natural alternatives to get rid of pests, such as providing a shelter to small birds like finches, who eat insects, or use traps to catch for example flies and mosquitoes².
Become a host
A safe place to live is important especially for a solitary species of bees. In contrast to honeybees which have a special hierarchy within their colonies, wild bee species seek a safe shelter in many places, such as deserted animal burrows, cracks in tree trunks, rotting logs, or small openings in other natural materials. It is an easy job to create a little bee hotel by drilling holes into a piece of wood mounted above the ground, or in a dead tree that’s standing in your neighborhood. You can find many creative ideas to make it look both functional and pretty on the internet.
Get new friends and a new hobby of beekeeping
This is certainly not for every person. But becoming a beekeeper comes with advantages. You are carrying on a very rewarding practice and you are able to produce never ending honey for your whole family. In some countries, local beekeeping associations organize training sessions to encourage new people to join them. Or you can try to reach out to an experienced beekeeper from your neighborhood for advice.
If it is not possible for you to explore the joy of beekeeping, but would like to help these incredible little workers, you can ‘adopt a hive’. Finding a good spot to place hives can be quite a challenge especially in urban areas. That’s where you can help, if you have an unused piece of land on your property. Get in touch with a local beekeeper or beekeeping association to give it a try.
Set your focus on local
When possible always buy locally-produced honey rather than mass-produced supermarket brands. You will help the environment by reducing the distance the product needs to travel to reach the supermarket’s shelves, and support local beekeepers. Local honey is not treated to look better on a shelf and tastes different than supermarket honey because its flavor reflects local flora. In addition, supporting small beekeepers is important to help decrease environmental degradation. Economic development and dying bee populations carry a high level of risk for small beekeepers, but we still depend on their work to have our crops and gardens pollinated.