Honey bees are considered a keystone species because of their large contribution to their ecosystem; they pollinate plants, which is one of the primary ways plants reproduce and provide us with food. Nearly ⅓ of what we eat is brought to us by these little pollinators. Unfortunately, due to issues like pesticides, loss of habitat, and parasites, honey bees have been dying at alarming rates. Luckily, there are things we can do to help.
A lack of habitat is one of the biggest threats to bees- help them out by planting things that attract pollinators. There are lots of pretty flowers such as chives, sunflowers, and yarrow that are great for pollinators. If you don’t have room for flowers, herbs such as thyme, lavender, and mint are also good options for bees.
Only buy honey that has not been treated by chemicals, the label will say “untreated” or “raw” honey. Buy honey and beeswax products, as well as locally grown organic food, from your local farmer’s market. By supporting local farmers we keep them in business and show that we value products that do not use harsh chemicals or pesticides.
Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals
Pesticides or other chemicals for the yard can kill bees or be put into the honey that we eat. By cutting these out, we can help protect the bee population and keep our honey safe.
Don’t Be Afraid of Bees
Honeybees aren’t aggressive and only sting if they think their hive is being threatened. Once they sting, their stinger is ripped from their bodies and they die, so stinging someone is really more painful for them than it is for you. Wasps, on the other hand, are more aggressive and can sting multiple times. Learn to differentiate between bees and wasps so you know which ones to watch out for. Bees are round and slow moving, while wasps are sleek with small abdomens and move quickly.
Start Your Own Hive
One of the best ways to help the bees is by starting your own hive. After researching and contacting your local beekeeping club, you can decide if this sounds like something you and your family would be able to commit to. Bees are easy animals to look after, but they still require some maintenance.
Sponsor a Hive
If starting your own beehive sounds daunting, you can always help out in other ways. By sponsoring a beehive, you can help finance the installation of hives all over the country. By providing bees with more housing, we can help increase the population and lessen the housing competition.
Honey bees are essential to our food production and we need to do what we can to help their population numbers increase. Even small things, such as planting herbs or buying local honey, will add up to make a big difference for the honey bees and the farmers that care for them.
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