Sustainable Gardening

Helping Our Local Bee Populations

Bee on a flower

Honey bees support the ecosystem. However, bee populations are declining at a dramatic rate, especially in the past 15 years. At this rate, it will only be a matter of time before crop production starts dropping too. Several factors have contributed to the disappearance of honey bees.

Colony collapse disorder is caused by climate change, absence of genetic biodiversity, and the use of pesticides among other human practices. In order to save the world’s agricultural system, the bees must be saved. Here are 8 ways you can help the local bee populations.

1. Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers

One popular way of supporting the bee populations is planting a pollinator garden with attractive flowers. Having a variety of bloom at the same time is encouraged. Brightly colored flowers like sunflowers, cranesbill, and daisies will attract bees to your garden. Single-headed flowers such as daffodils and anemones produce the most nectar for honey bees. While gardening, avoid plants that lack nectar or stamen. Flowers like roses with clustered petals are confusing to the bees.

2. Plant Herbs and Vegetables

On top of being attractive, herbs are a source of food for the honeybees. Herbs like mint, oregano, sage, and cilantro require little space. Gardeners with small plots can still support the bee populations: you can grow them in pots on your balcony.

Leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are categorized as seeding plants. Their presence ensures the honey bees have food supply throughout the year: even during the cold months.

3. Use Organic Pest Control Methods

One of the reasons behind the colony collapse disorder is pesticide poisoning. Using chemical treatments in your gardening destroys the ecosystem. Acaricides used to fight parasites that feed on bees leads to the death of the bees. Instead of using chemicals to combat mites in the hive, use alternatives such as organic acids to preserve bee health.

To protect the crops in your garden, use pesticide-free options like spraying insecticidal soap in your garden and introducing beneficial worms. Row covers and crop rotation is also effective for pest control.

4. Support Local Beekeepers

Supporting beekeepers and local farmers support the survival of bee colonies. Buying honey from local beekeepers is a strong gesture. It expresses your support for their ecologically, friendly beekeeping practices. This motivates the beekeepers to uphold sustainable beekeeping by avoiding techniques that threaten the lives of honey bees.

5. Keep Your Yard Bee-Friendly

While landscaping, allow wild plants to grow too. Overly manicured lawns deprive bees of nectar and food. Do not use pesticides and chemicals to get rid of weeds in your yard. Incorporate native plants like the dandelions in your landscape. Grass lawns do not offer shelter to pollinators. Let shrubs grow as they provide food and undisturbed habitat for bees.

6. Provide Water

Due to climate change and poor waste management practices, most of the water sources are contaminated. Exposure to contaminated water leads to the death of honey bees. Bees need clean water for making bee bread, which is used to feed the developing larvae. It is a combination of water, pollen, and enzymes left to ferment. Without water, it would be impossible to feed the larvae. Keeping a basin or pot of water in your yard gives bees access to clean water and prevents the starvation of larvae.

7. Learn About Sustainable Farming

Some gardening and farming practices have contributed to colony collapse disorder. Familiarizing yourself with sustainable farming practices will not only prevent the decline of bee colonies but also promote their expansion. Migratory beekeeping is one of the most harmful practices. Commercial beekeepers let farmers hire their hives for pollination.

Moving bees across the country facilitate the transfer of pests and diseases, which causes the death of the bees in the fields. The movement is also disorienting to the pollinators. Such farming practices will cause a decline in the bee population as much as they are a source of livelihood for many families.

8. Create a Natural Habitat for the Bees

Climate change has led to the destruction of bee habitats. Loss of the habitats has contributed to the disappearance of bee populations. Creating a natural space for them helps in the recovery of bee populations.

The preferred habitats for bees differ. Some live in the mud while others nest in the wood. You can purchase a simple structure or build one. Bricks, logs, and grass can create structures.

Bee makes a significant contribution to the world’s food production. 80% of flowering plants are pollinated by bees. As their populations decline, food production is negatively impacted. You can help keep the planet green by protecting the bees. Avoid farming practices that are harmful to bees, create a natural habitat for them, and support local beekeepers. This will help recover and protect the endangered bee colonies.

Featured image by Beverly Hurley

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