Bees are important to anyone who likes to eat, and not just those who like honey. Bees are responsible for the pollination of many different foods including coffee beans, cacao beans (where chocolate comes from) and many fruits like apples, squash, peas and many, many more.
The bee population is in turmoil right now and needs all the support we can give. One of the best ways to support bees is to start a colony and begin bee keeping. It’s a venture I would encourage anyone to begin.
But sometimes that’s not possible. Maybe you don’t have time or funds to commit to keeping bees. Maybe the thought of working with thousands of bees is daunting, maybe your living situation doesn’t allow you to have beehives.
Whatever the reason, the rate of consumers compared to people who can logistically start a backyard beehive is pretty uneven.
So what can non-beekeepers do to support bees without getting out the smoker and veil?
Here are ten things everyone can do to support bees. Can’t do them all? Just pick one or two. Every little bit helps!
Don’t use pesticides
Pesticides are not discriminatory. Sure, they kill bad insects, but they also kill good ones like bees.
Support organic farmers who also don’t use pesticides
Shop your local farmers market or buy organic from the grocery stores. These farmers can only afford to continue mindful growing practices if we support them.
Buy local honey support your local bee keepers
It’s been said that consuming local honey can help people fight seasonal allergies, with the logic that you are being exposed to small amounts of pollen from the plants in your area that you may be allergic to. It’s similar thinking to the way an allergy shot works.
So not only is local honey perhaps better for you, the support of local bee keepers keeps money in your own community and allows beekeepers to continue to provide for their hives.
Store bought honey has also been under scrutiny lately in the media. With questionable ingredients like corn syrup making up much of the product “claiming” to be honey.
Plant a bee friendly garden
Or even a potted plant. Every little bit helps. (For more on bee pleasing plants, visit my post Gardening for Bees)
Provide a water source for bees
Bees need water. Place a shallow dish with pebbles in it to provide a source of water to bees.
Hang a maintenance free bee hive in your yard.
There are many important pollinators besides honey bees that could also use support. Mason Bees and Bumble Bees get less attention because they don’t produce honey that we consume, but they also do their part in the pollination process.
Mason Beehives can be quite attractive hanging in your yard. They come in many designs and colors. For more information on how you can support Mason Bees and Bumble Bees visit my post Hives for Pollination and Conservation
Hang hummingbird feeders and butterfly feeders in your yard
Hummingbirds and Butterflies are some of the most beautiful pollinators in nature. Hang a Hummingbird feeder filled with 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. Boiled, then allowed to cool.
You can also purchase a butterfly feeder or set out small sponges dampened in the same sugar water recipe above. Butterflies also enjoy banana slices. Be sure to remove fruit as it spoils.
Share quality literature that teaches about the bee crisis.
Social media is a great way to spread quality information. Support bee keeping sites like Keeping Backyard Bees by sharing posts with your friends.
If you have a bee keeping club in your area, spread the word to new members.
If you work in the community, arrange for a bee keeper to host a speaking event.
If you are a beekeeper, volunteer! Or start a blog sharing your bee keeping experiences.
When you harvest honey, invite people over to watch and learn. Knowledge often stirs enthusiasm and involvement.
Have Property? Share it!
This spring our friend is setting up a beehive on our property. They live in an urban area but she is very interested in bee keeping so she will keep her bees on our property. We get the advantage of the extra pollinators for our garden, pumpkin patch and fruit trees, and she gets the honey. Society benefits because there’s one more bee colony in the world.