Bees, our most important pollinators, play a role in our food production that, if gone, would wreck the ecosystem and a large chunk of the world economy. About one out of every three bites of food you consume can be traced back to bee pollination. These helpful creatures work tirelessly year-round to pollinate plants and bring you the beauty and bounty that you’ve come to expect from nature. Here’s how to help your local populations year-round.
When spring rolls around, it’s time to work on your very own backyard pollinator garden. This type of garden is tailor-made to attract pollinators like birds, butterflies, and most importantly, bees. Some basic tips for creating a great pollinator garden include:
- Refrain from using pesticides and herbicides, as these chemicals are harmful to bees and their colonies. A single bee can collapse its entire hive or nest if it brings back enough pesticide.
- Plant native flowers. Honeybees are attracted to just about anything, but the vast majority of bee species prefer to feed from the same flowers they grew up on - flowers native to their area.
- Save some money by going heavy on perennial flowers, defined as “any flowering plant that returns year after year, as opposed to annuals which die after one season,” according to HomeAdvisor.com. Check this list for some great perennial native flowers that bees love.
Summer is the best time to frequent your local farmers’ markets to check out all the fresh produce your community growers have to offer. How does this help bees, exactly? Well, anytime you can support smaller, organic farming the better. Pesticide use in large agricultural businesses is thought to be one of the leading causes of bee population decline around the world. The farmers at your farmers’ market are much more likely to practice bee-friendly organic, pesticide-free farming - which means giving them your money is helping the bees. You may think buying organic is too expensive - and you may be right if you’re talking about the supermarket. But farmers’ markets offer more-than-fair prices for delicious and healthy goods.
Fall is one of the most popular times for beekeepers to harvest honey. Beekeepers can’t rush the harvest, as they must give bees enough time to ripen the honey. Beekeepers also want to wait until most of the flower blooms are gone for the year, which means the honey production has been mostly maxed-out. Some believe that leaving too much honey in the hive over winter decreases the quality of the honey. For these reasons, fall is a sweet spot for honey harvest. You can help your local bees by only buying local honey, as your community beekeepers are much more likely to practice beekeeping techniques that are better for bees.
Winter is the perfect time to start your annuals for your spring pollinator garden. Planting from seed is much more eco-friendly and way less expensive, as seeds are a fraction of the price of full-grown plants at a nursery. Start your seeds indoors during the winter and by the time spring rolls around they will be ready to transfer to your outdoor garden.
There’s always something you can do to help out your local bee population no matter what time of year it is. You can help with your hard work or with your wallet. Making choices year-round to help bees is one way to do your part to protect one of our most vital natural companions. Without a flourishing bee population, many of the foods you love may become scarce or rather expensive.
Author: Christy Erickson SavingOurBees.org
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com