Make a difference - How to save the bees this Spring
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
As you may know, bees all over the world are suffering an enormous blow to their population. Spring being the season of rebirth is the ideal opportunity to offer bees a new lease of life and really make a difference.
Every year as Spring approaches we should always remember what life has taught us, it’s to nurture your home.
The perfect season for doing just that is spring.
While Spring day may still be a way away, nature is always on the verge of beginning to tingle awake: jasmines are sharing their sweet scent with the world, gardens are becoming green again, and slowly but surely, bees are buzzing back to life.
This is the perfect time to start preparing a healthy environment in order to help save bees and various other pollinators.
Why are bees so important?
Caring for bees is all well and good, but if you aren’t completely certain of why it is bees are so vital to life as we know it, you can’t properly educate and impassion others to feel the same.
Bees are important to life for one highlighted reason, pollination.
Looking globally, there are more honey bees than any other pollinating insects. Therefore, these tiny creatures are the most important pollinators of food resources and biodiversity.
A single honey bee will visit around 1500 flowers each day, moving 4-5 pounds of nectar between different plants.
It is for this reason that approximately one-third of our daily food consumption is pollinated by bees.
Other reasons bees form an undeniable purpose in our environment include:
Source of food
Beauty and aroma
To sum it up, honeybees pollinate 80% of our crops. Without pollination, flowers don’t get fertilized, and are left unable to make fruit, which consequently results in no seeds.
Essentially, bees are vital in multiple life stages of the food we eat, so if their numbers decline too much, there won’t be enough of them to pollinate the world’s crops, leading to immense food insecurity, famine, and loss of biodiversity.
Without these little superheroes, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the important stuff, like coffee and chocolate. We’d also have to live without avocados, tomatoes, citrus, apples, berries, onions, potatoes, broccoli, watermelon, and a variety of different pollinated foods.
How to save the bees
So now that you have an understanding of the importance of bees in our ecosystem, what can you do to make a difference and save these essential supporters of life?
1. Know the problem
The reasons the honeybee population all over the world is declining can be narrowed down to a handful of things:
parasites and diseases
While there isn’t much you can do to fight bee-specific parasites and diseases, you’re able to give them the chance to thrive and live healthily through arranging a bee-friendly garden and supporting bee-friendly practices.
2. Plant a bee garden
The average bee can travel up to up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the hive on each trip, and make up to 12 trips a day.
Cities tend to form concrete jungles with little space for flowers. These vast expanses of cement and tarmac mean that bees need to travel farther to reach food and resources to survive.
By planting a bee garden, you’re creating a little oasis for busy bees to stop at, replenish food and water, and even get a little work done at the same time.
So, what makes a bee garden?
Lawns are just as much of a problem to bees as cement and tarmac – there’s very little biological productivity happening in a lawn.
In other words, lawns offer no food for bees to eat, or flowers for them to pollinate, making them a waste of space.
The perfect bee garden has sizeable flowerbeds overflowing with bee favorites like Coral trees, Lavender, Marigolds, Black-eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, Cosmos, Sunflowers, Borage, and loads more.
Apart from frothing for aesthetically pleasing flowers, bees absolutely love most of the things you might want to grow for your kitchen.
They go nuts for lemons, granadillas, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chives, mint, and thyme.
Your own permaculture garden will create a perfect environment for bees as it is diverse and follows a holistic approach to gardening.
The principles of permaculture take all the aspects of the land into consideration, including the pollinators.
3. Install a bee bath
With limited lawn and an abundance of veggies, fruits, and herbs, you’re one step away from the ideal bee pit stop: A bee bath
A bee bath is similar to a birdbath in that it gives bees a space to hydrate and cool down.
All you need is a shallow dish, some marbles, and water, and you’ve got the perfect refresher station for the busybodies now buzzing through your garden.
4. Consider installing a hive
Cities are growing quickly, and they show no signs of stopping. Bees are running out of places to live at an alarming rate.
One way you can help is by installing a beehive.
If you live on a large piece of land, you have the perfect spot for a hive. You can install it in an "out-of-the-way" corner, giving it plenty of space and keeping your family and pets safe.
Throw in a bee garden and you’ve created a bee’s paradise!
If you want to know how to build your own beehive The Honey Bee Conservancy has a wonderful "how-to", and will be perfect to get you started.
Or maybe you don't want to install a full hive? That's okay, you can also make a small DIY bee house in no time whatsoever.
5. Watch your pesticides
Another factor hugely impacting bee populations is the indiscriminate use of pesticides.
There are a couple of ways that you can help.
The first being natural pesticides in your garden. If you’re having a bout of garden pests, rather than spraying toxins all over your garden good old dish soap and water in a spray bottle should sort you out.
Another amazing home remedy for weeds and pests is Baking Soda (not to mention all its other amazing uses).
Protecting the bees doesn’t stop at your garden. Too many commercial farmers use pesticides liberally, devastating bee populations.
Look into the farmers your local grocer supports and opt for those with the most bee-friendly methods.
This doesn’t necessarily mean organic; perhaps your local supplier uses pest-specific pesticides, which means the bees are safe.
This may take some research, but it’ll all be worth it!
6. Opt for bee-friendly hive removals
As much as we love bees, sometimes they make themselves at home in the most inconvenient spots, like at school, in your garage, or even your electricity box!
The quick fix is to fumigate but it also does the most harm. If we really want to help honeybees survive, we must turn to alternative methods of dealing with bees when they’re inconvenient, like hive removals.
Many beekeepers are happy to remove hives, keeping you, your loved ones, and the bees safe.
If you’re looking for somebody to remove a problem hive, stick to professionals. Don’t go for the friend of a friend of a friend who’s offering to do it cheaply.
Stings cause 220 000 emergency room visits every year and the people most suited (excuse the pun) for safe hive removals are registered beekeeping professionals.
Ultimately, caring for bees is a noble act.
It can be as easy as planting lavender, and it can be as difficult as researching commercial pesticides, but when it comes down to it, the most drastic difference all starts with an unshakeable desire to make a lasting impact.
And that is admirable.
If you want to know more about how you can run a sustainable holistic garden to care for these little insects The Bee Book is a wonderful place to get started.
About the Author
Jessica Evans is a South African freelance writer with a Bachelor of Journalism and a zoology major. She has a zeal for all things storytelling, brand, and science, and is thrilled by helping local businesses find and use an authentic voice to engage their audience. Find out more about what she does and get in touch at www.jessicaevanswriter.com/services.
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