by Susan Hardie
Summer’s here, the flowers are blooming, and you’re headed outdoors for a picnic, a hike or to do some gardening. You might be worried about bees, but maybe you should be worried for the bees. Here’s the latest buzz on the bees.
Bees are losing habitat all around the world at an alarming rate due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, flower-barren sprawling lawns and the destruction of native landscapes. Pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) have also dramatically accelerated bee depopulation in recent years.
The problem is serious because it threatens our food supply. Approximately one mouthful in three in our diet benefits from honeybee pollination. Almonds, for example, are completely dependent upon honeybees for pollination. But there is something all of us can do to help the bees in our communities.
Of course, the best action we can take to support honeybee survival is to stop using pesticides indiscriminately. Buying your raw honey from local farmers is another positive step. Farmers and ranchers are being encouraged with USDA subsidies to reseed their fields and create healthier habitats for bees. Some city dwellers have even taken up beekeeping!
Simply planting bee-friendly flowers in your garden or in a planter will help provide bees with the forage they need. In the spring, bees enjoy lilac, lavender, penstemon, sage, verbena and wisteria. In the summer, have some mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, rosemary, poppies and honeysuckle blooming in your garden. Fuschia, mint, toadflax, sage, and bush sunflower will attract the bees in the fall. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together – about one square yard – bees like volume. As far as the bees are concerned, weeds and wildflowers will do just fine, too! Bees like a little water, so a small water basin with some stones in it for them to crawl on will be appreciated.
If you’re afraid of being stung, remember that honeybees are vegetarians. They are busy foraging pollen and nectar from flowers up to three miles from their hive and bringing that back to provide food for themselves and the beehive. They’re not out to sting you. A honeybee will die after it stings a human. Try to stay out of their path and away from their hive. If a bee is around you, stay calm and still. When they sense you are not a threat, they will go about their business.
So, bee friendly, enjoy your summer and bee sure to stop and smell the flowers!