Why Bees Are Important… and Three Things You Can Do to Help Them Thrive
Friday, July 7, 2017 at 8:27AM
Clayton K.

Guest Article by Christy Erickson

Image via Pexels


More than a decade ago, bees started disappearing in record numbers. Since then the conversation about bees has been ongoing. Scientists, beekeepers, and environmentalists all have their own ideas as to why the bees are dying and what we should do to ensure their survival. 


Whether it’s a microscopic mite, the use of pesticides, or something yet to be determined that is causing the bees to die off, there is one thing everyone can agree on: we need them. Bees are hailed as one of the most beneficial animals on the planet.


It makes sense. In addition to playing an important role in nature, bees are also vital to our human food supply and our economy.  Without pollinators like bees, most plants cannot produce the fruits and seeds both animals and humans rely on for our food. One popular theory says, without them, food production would ultimately stop all together.


The good news is, while the scientists and bee experts out there keep researching, there is something the rest of us can do. Three things, actually...


  1. Plant a Bee Garden. Bees love flowers. So do butterflies, hummingbirds, and other beneficial insects.  A simple garden made up of a few species of flowering plants native to your region is all it takes to keep your local pollinators happy. You don’t need a lot of space or a lot of expertise. You can plant blooms in the ground or create an urban garden, and you can even track down seed packets designed specifically for bee gardens online. They key is to pick bee-friendly plants that encourage bees to pollinate and reproduce.


If you want to take your bee garden a step further, include a bee bath. Simply fill a small dish with a pebbles and fresh water and place it among your flowering plants for bees to drink and cool off. If you keep it in the same place and keep it filled with fresh, clean water, the bees will keep coming back.


  1. Become a Beekeeper. If you already tend a garden, beekeeping is a natural next step. Like gardening, beekeeping has been a favorite pastime for hundreds of years so there is plenty of information available to get you started. Need a mentor? Almost every state and many counties have beekeeping clubs where you can interact with other local beekeepers in person.


And thanks to technology, beekeeping has gotten easier in the past decade. New bee box designs allow you to monitor and care for your bees without having to get dressed in full protective gear or smoke your bees until they’re calm. Instead, these new hive designs have special openings and compartments that let you feed your bees, perform visual checks, and even retrieve the honey without disrupting the bees’ routine. You can also track everything from the temperature of your hives to how much honey they produce right from your smartphone. (Just google “beekeeping apps.”)


  1. Donate to the Cause. Let’s face it. Not everyone has a green thumb, and even the promise of fresh, sweet honey may not be enough to turn you into a beekeeper. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help the bees flourish. You can always put your money where your mouth is by buying local honey from your neighborhood beekeepers. You can usually find them at the farmer’s market. In addition to supporting the people who are keeping bee populations stable, local honey is said to have some amazing health benefits.


There are also many non-profit organizations doing their part to increase awareness, educate the public, and fund research to keep the bees thriving. Most of these advocacy groups accept donations to further their cause.

While these simple steps may seem like a drop in the bucket, every little bit helps. Activities like these have been on the rise since bee health became a major concern and may have contributed to the fact that bee colonies are actually on the rise. So whether you decide to plant flowers, keep bees, or donate money, the bees will definitely thank you.

Article originally appeared on Hillsdale Farmers' Market (http://www.hillsdalefarmersmarket.com/).
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