Helping Bees in my Neighborhood

A friend of mine is an entomologist, and knows just about everything there is to know about bees. When I went to a presentation he gave last year I was fascinated to learn that there are THOUSANDS of varieties of bees in the U.S.,  and only a handful of those are the traditional honey-making kind we think of when we think of bees.

But even though they don’t all live in hives and make honey that is suitable for humans to eat, they DO all provide vital support to our survival by pollinating our food sources. And they are all in danger of losing habitat and being poisoned into extinction as our human habitat expands.

So, it seems to me that preserving some space in my yard for bees to thrive and reproduce is kind of the least I could do for an insect that provides so much for me, right? But even though I can’t keep bee hives in my town, there are other steps I can take.

Here are a few ideas I found on Mother Nature Network

Plant things that bees like – you can easily find suggestions of flowers and flowering trees and shrubs that grow well in your region with a visit to your local plant nursery or library. An Internet search works too, but I always love a reason to plan a “field trip”.

Provide habitat – like I said, bees like lots of different kinds of environments. Some build homes in bare patches of dirt (which solid swaths of lawn do not provide), others use holes in old wood created by woodpeckers and other mining birds to lay eggs. Look into what different bees need and set up some space for them to thrive. Be sure to provide some water as well – a bird bath or shallow dishes set in the garden to catch rain should do the trick.

Eliminate pesticides in your yard – self-explanatory, really. In the long run, I’d rather have bees than a lawn that looks like the putting green at a mini-golf course.

Let veggies and herbs “bolt” – as they flower later in the growing season, many of the cabbages and herbs and other plants that go to seed in late summer and early fall provide important nutrition for bees to last them through the winter.

Support local beekeepers – help keep beekeepers in business by purchasing their products! They’re helping save our bees, and when you make their work profitable, you’re doing your part. As an added bonus, eating locally-harvested honey has been shown to help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms in many folks.

Let me know what you are doing to help bees in your neighborhood!

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