Bees are one of nature’s most magnificent masterpieces. They live deeply complex lives, mastering different skills as they mature, and communicating information to their co-workers with stunning efficiency. Throughout the ages and across many cultures, bees have been held up by humankind as examples of wisdom and industry.
Bees pollinate most of the fruit and vegetables we relish today, as well as many of the wildflowers that bring perfumed beauty to our fields and roadsides. Yet tragically, their population is declining – dramatically. Bee colonies around the world are suffering and dying from global warming, parasites, poisons, and loss of habitat.
Here are some simple ways that you can help keep your local bee population alive.
Release bees that are trapped in your house back into the wild.
Bees are essentially “live and let live” creatures. If you treat them gently, they’ll generally avoid trying to sting you. Here’s how to safely free a bee that finds itself trapped in your home or office building.
Plant a bee garden.
Bees need to eat, but sprawling cities have overtaken miles of their natural foraging grounds. You can help them out by planting some sweet and colorful bee snacks. Not all flowers are generous sources of nectar and pollen, so here’s how to plant a garden that pollinators will love.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still get involved by volunteering to plant a bee garden at your local park, or getting permission from your local council to plant one on the side of the road.
Or, you can plant flowers in garden pots. A brightly-colored, bee-feeding garden in flower pots, spread throughout your home, won’t just please the bees – it will make you happier too!
Buy organically grown food.
Supporting local organic farming helps keep bees alive. Here’s why: organic farms don’t use the pesticides that are wreaking havoc among bee colonies, and buying locally reduces your carbon footprint and those harmful emissions that are contributing to global warming (another deadly factor for bees).
Or, even better: you could plant your own eco garden! Sustainable gardening benefits the whole family – it’s an endless source of productive nature activities for kids, it’s therapeutic for you, and it loads your table with wholesome fare.
Don’t use chemical pesticides when gardening.
Pesticides also kill bees: here are some eco friendly alternatives for dealing with common garden pests.
Leave dandelions and clover in your lawn and garden beds.
Set up a bee watering station.
Bees need to drink, and on hot days you can see them gather around a water source. Watering them is fun and simple – here’s how. Your kids would love to be involved in this project – it’s a creative natural learning initiative, and an excellent opportunity for outdoor play.
Create bee condos for solitary bees.
Little known fact: lots of bee species don’t live in hives; they lead largely solitary lives. Here’s how you can create some comfy apartments for them in your garden.
Support local beekeepers.
They’re probably nurturing dozens of hives – so buy their honey and wax products.
If you see bees swarming, contact a beekeeper.
Swarming is an entirely natural phenomenon where bees leave their old home to find a new one. If you see bees flying past in a large cloud, quickly contact the nearest beekeeper so that the swarming bees can be safely rehoused.
Wash out your honey jars, so bees can’t feed from them.
Honey brought in from other countries can contain pathogens that could kill off whole colonies of local bees.
Bee an ambassador!
Bees can’t speak for themselves – they’ve done their part by becoming deeply essential to our species, and now they need us to stick up for them. You can commit to becoming an ambassador for these incredible little animals by sharing what you’re doing to help.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.