If you’ve heard anything about bees lately it’s likely that they need protecting. Why? The short answer is that bees are our most-important pollinators and they are in a bit of trouble. You may have heard that planting a large bee garden is the best way to help. While it is a great way to boost local bee populations, having a large garden is just not feasible for some people. Fear not - here’s how you can help the bees even if you have no real yard space at all.
Why you need to act to help the bees
Bees are the world’s top pollinator - anything that moves pollen to and from the parts of a plant that reproduce, causing plants to make fruit and/or seeds. It’s estimated that between 70-100 crops in the United States are at least, in some way, dependent on bees. Anywhere from 15% to 30% of what you eat depends on bees. Not only does the world’s ecology owe a lot to these special pollinators, but the world’s economy does to. Just in the U.S. bees are thought to affect more than $100 billion of agriculture a year.
It’s thought the the recent decline in bee populations worldwide is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to the use of certain pesticides that wreak havoc on bee colonies, habitat destruction, and a scarcity of food resources in some areas. We don’t know exactly what a world without bees would look like, but we know that the more bees we lose the worse off we are.
So, what can a yard-less person do to help?
So you’re not going to build a massive bee garden, build a habitat for bees, or get into beekeeping. But you can still help.
Try building a “porch garden” with potted plants. You don’t have to have a ton of yard space to raise healthy plants that bees will love (and even some you can eat!). If you’re a novice at the “container garden” thing, check out these starter tips. Bees generally love blue, yellow, and purple flowers, plants that are native to their area, and wildflowers. Bees also love dandelions and clover, so if you do have a small stretch of grass don’t weed it! Remember, never use pesticides or herbicides if you want to be truly bee-friendly.
Buy local and organic. Farmers who subscribe to organic farming eliminate the use of pesticides, which we know are harming bee populations. Buying local honey is also important, as supporting local apiaries is one way to boost bee populations. It may cost a little more, but shy away from the stuff in the bear bottles that comes from who knows where and support local beekeepers by buying their honey (available direct or via local farmers markets or local-oriented grocery stores).
If you have the money, one great way to help the bees is to adopt a local hive. Beekeepers are experiencing upward of 30% decline over the past few years, and replacing their hives can be costly. Contact your local apiaries and ask if they have a hive adoption program. Even if they don’t have an official program in place, you can probably still donate to their cause (and maybe even help them start that adopt-a-hive program).
There are plenty of ways that an apartment-dweller or someone without the time and skill level to maintain a giant bee garden can still help their local bee populations, which in turn will help a truly global problem. Without the bees, we would lose our best natural method of plant pollination. That’s why it’s so crucial that we do everything in our power to protect this vital member of the food chain.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com