What Can I Do to Help Honey Bees?
There’s lots of buzz going around about the humble honey bee and other native pollinators: they’re in trouble, and they need help. High-efficiency monoculture farms, extensive use of pesticides, and bee parasites and diseases all play a role in the current bee health crisis. As a result, beekeepers are struggling to keep their hives alive and well.
Current bee colony losses are not sustainable, and may ultimately destroy the American beekeeping industry, impacting the bulk of food growers across the country. Concerning as this is, there are certain important steps individuals can take to help honey bees:
- Plant bee-friendly botanicals. Gardens are like grocery stores for bees. Planting a variety of flowering shrubs and perennials on a rotating bloom cycle is a great way to provide pollen and nectar to bees. Salvia, coneflowers, lavender and butterfly bush are just a few options that honey bees particularly love. A wildflower mix or a little clover and alfalfa in wild grasses are great options for properties with extra acreage.
- Limit the use of pesticides. Inadvertent pesticide exposure kills bees. If spraying is a must, avoid spraying blooming plants and spray at the end of the day when bees are less likely to be exposed.
- Consider hosting a few hives. Beekeepers depend on their communities to provide suitable sites for setting up bee apiaries. Those with land to spare can reach out to local beekeeping organizations to make their interest known—most states and many communities have established groups. Beekeepers typically give landowners a few pounds of the honey their property helped produce as a show of thanks.
- Buy genuine honey. This one may seem obvious but it’s worth stating: beekeepers depend on every individual to create demand for authentic honey. Companies like Honey Gardens offer raw honey in jars, but they also use raw honey in honey syrups and other products. That means it’s easy to enjoy the benefits of a traditional respiratory formula with Wild Cherry Bark Syrup, or to promote immunity with Elderberry Syrup or Elderberry Honey Immune Drink while also supporting beekeepers.
- Donate. Several non-profit groups are actively working on solutions to the honey bee health crisis. Check out Project Apis M., The Pollinator Stewardship Council, or The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. Private donations are the lifeblood of ongoing research.
Declining honey bee health is a complex issue with myriad causes; small but coordinated efforts from many individuals could go a long way toward improving the outlook for honey bees. To better understand this crisis, take 15 minutes to watch the TED Talk titled “Why Bees Are Disappearing” by Dr. Marla Spivak.
It’s impossible (and unpleasant) to imagine the world without honey bees. Luckily, individuals can help honey bees stabilize so Earth doesn’t lose its hardest workers.
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+These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.