June 12, 2015

8 Ways To Help Save The Bees (Starting In Your Backyard)

By Erica R. Hendry

Honey bees are shown in the U.S. Department of Agriculture People's Garden Apiary.

Honey bees are shown in the U.S. Department of Agriculture People's Garden Apiary.

Last year, beekeepers lost 42 percent of their hives — the latest startling statistic to come from the movement to keep bees and pollinators in the U.S. alive.

The issue has risen as far as the White House, which earlier this year unveiled a plan to promote the country’s hives and their health.

But taking meaningful action on your own can seem daunting. Center for Food Safety‘s Larissa Walker says there are plenty of ways to help, starting in your own backyard.
At Home

  1. Plant pollinator-friendly flowers. They’ll provide better forage for pollinators, Walker says.  You can even choose plants for every season: Prickly Wild Roses and Rosemary for the spring, Black-Eyed Susans and Fireweed in the mid-summer and Jerusalem Artichoke in the late summer and fall. Find more on this list from the Center for Food Safety. 
  2. Create nesting Sites: Wild bees need safe habitats.  In nature, they find them in the ground, in wood tunnels and in other tiny corners. You can create some of your own — from wooden blocks to bamboo bundles — using this guide from the Xerces Society.
  3. Avoid using pesticides in your backyard, especially systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids. The Center for Food Safety has this list of bee-toxic pesticides to avoid. Walker says it’s important to make sure that any pollinator-friendly plants you purchase have not been treated with neonicotinoids (it’s more common than you think, Walker says). Friends of the Earth keeps a list of retailers that have committed to selling plants that are safe for bees. You can also ask your nursery supplier if their plants were pretreated with neonicotinoids.

In The Community

  1. Help track the bees: Learn more about the impressive wild bee species in your area (there’s even an app for identifying them).
  2. Support local beekeepers in your area by purchasing honey from them.
  3. Consider keeping bees yourself – look up your local beekeepers association to get started.
  4. Make your neighborhood bee safe (as in this grassroots effort out of Boulder, Colorado).
  5. You can call on your city council to ban the use of toxic pesticides on city property, Walker says, as residents did in Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

Do you have more tips for helping the bees? Share in the comments