Bees are crucial to our survival; we need them more than they need us. They help pollination of native plants to ensure the survival of these species. Bees are especially critical for the survival of mankind as scientists estimate that human race will be destroyed if bees die. Now that spring is almost here, let us study some easy ways to save bees using the right gardening techniques.
1. Plant flowering plants which bees love
If you have decided to do something to help bees, the first thing to do is plant the right flowers. Flowers with nectar are good source of food for the bees. It is best to select native species of flowering plants so that bees can have a permanent source of food in your garden. Choose diverse species with different colors, shapes, fragrances and bloom times. Now that spring is almost upon us, go for varieties that last from early spring until late fall. Avoid pollen cultivators and double petaled varieties of ornamental kinds. Here are some bee friendly plants and herbs:
- Flowering bushes: Marjoram, chives, sage and thyme
- Crocus, bluebell etc are low growers which bees and butterflies love
- Hyssop, rosemary, lavender, and hebe are some other varieties to consider.
- Dandelions are the best; did you know that bees feed on dandelions first after a long spell of winter?
- Bees apparently love purple color– so plant plenty of lavender, cornflower, Russian sage and coneflowers to name a few.
- For the lawn– Consider patches of clover in your lawn-they grow easily and attract bees.
2. Support local beekeepers
Instead of buying honey and other bees’ products from supermarkets, source them directly from local beekeepers or farmer markets. You will be surprised to see how honey colors vary from green to gold to white! Also buy beeswax, candles, honey balms and soaps to support these local organizations. Better yet: Talk to the local beekeepers to place a hive on your property and, if possible, consider learning how to become a beekeeper yourself!
3. Encourage and educate your neighbors to support bees
Talk to friends and neighbors about ways in which you can save bees. You can even invite them to see your bee-friendly gardens. Take these projects to your child’s school too: have your kids talk about bees and their importance in their class. If you live in an apartment complex, talk to your residential manager about efforts you can collectively take to save bees.
4. Do not use herbicides and pesticides
Pesticides are extremely harmful to bees and butterflies. If you wish to help bees, then avoid use of these chemicals. Even organic approved insecticides can hurt bees. Herbicides are not directly lethal to bees but they prevent growth of weeds and wildflowers which are food sources for bees and hummingbirds. Alternatives to these harmful chemicals are white vinegar, cayenne pepper and insecticidal soaps which help battle weeds, ants and other insects which destroy your produce. It is best to read labels so you can avoid products containing neonicotinoid insecticides in the form of:
These are highly toxic to bees and remain so for days after their application.
5. Consider the timing of application of pesticides
If you cannot do without using pesticides, you can at least consider applying them while there are no blooms or after the flowers have fallen off. Bees hardly spend time on trees when there are no flowers. This is the easiest way to help save bees.
6. Protect nest sites
Bees use untidy areas of the garden such as brush piles, open sandy grounds, old tree stumps etc to nest upon. Most people get rid of these as they seem ‘ugly’ or unsightly. Do consider leaving a few of these areas to help bees. You can also supplement your gardens with mason bee houses and bundles of hollow plant stems to encourage bees to nest in. Bees also need water, so make sure there is a source nearby, especially in summers.
7. Help save bees in the cities too!
Bees are crucial in the countryside but that does not mean city dwellers cannot do a thing about them. A wild window box in the middle of an urban jungle can go a long way. While you are at it, encourage your neighbors to keep them too- a whole building with bee window boxes will look fantastic and can help save bees. Remember: native bees hardly sting as long as they are not grabbed or stepped on.
8. Involve local councilors
Take a ‘bee walk’. Are your neighborhood parks bee-friendly? Grass cut short is not very helpful for bees. Could the parks leave a few areas uncut? Invite your local councilor or mayor and talk about the plight of the bee. Educate the garden/park managers to manage hedgerows and verges in a manner that encourages and save bees.
9. Go online
There are many online resources which you can browse through to get more involved with organizations that are trying to save bees. Here are some of them:
We hope these easy ways to help save bees give you the resources you need. Let us know other ways and ideas too!