Bees are in Trouble, Learn How You Can Help in Your Own Backyard
Cities and human population are taking over several environments and habitats that are required by local wildlife. In the case of bees, it doesn’t help that many people simply don’t like bees. They are truly misunderstood insects and most of pollinating of flowers is done by bees. There are a few simple ways you can help bees in your own backyard with food, housing, and avoiding pesticides.
Provide Bee Friendly Flowers with Plenty of Nectar and Pollen
You’ll want to have something in bloom from early spring to late fall so bees will always find nourishment when visiting your garden. A large range of colors, especially blue, violet, white, and yellow will help attract bees. Bee balm, black-eyed Susan, cleome, sunflower, and zinnia are excellent varieties of flowers. They offer more pollen and nectar than highly developed hybrids of the same flower. Other blossoms that bees favor include lavender, rosemary, thyme and other herbs.
Get Sunflower Seeds from the Great Sunflower Project
It’s easy to participate in the Great Sunflower Project. All you need to do is sign up, plant your sunflower, describe your garden, time how long it takes 5 bees to visit your sunflower plant and enter the data online.
You’ll receive 25 seeds per packet of Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds for only $3 to cover shipping and handling.
Chemical pesticides not only kill the pest insects, but the helpful insects like bees too. Try to provide a rich array of native plants to attract beneficial insects like lacewings and lady beetles, which naturally devour aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
Offer Suitable Housing for Local Bees Including Ground Nesting Bees
Obviously you will probably not want to build a honeybee colony, nor your neighbors. However, the marjority of the 4,000 species of native bees are solitary and many homeless bees are single mothers raising their young. They are rarly aggressive as they don’t have a hive to defend.
Ground nesting bees make up about 70% of native bees and all they need is a bare piece of earth in a sunny spot. It can be as small as 1 square foot. Simply leave some ground bare from mulch when tending your garen.
The other varieties include wood nesters who will find a home in a tree hole or nesting box like the one shown to the left.
Make Your Own Nesting Block for Bees
- You need a piece of wood at least 4 inches deep and 8 inches long. Try to use untreated lumbar. Avoid cedar as it’s toxic to insects.
- Drill a grid of holes varying from 3/32 to 3/8 inch in diameter, spacing them approximately 3/4 inch from each other. Drill deep holes, even going through the wood to maximize nesting depth.
- Attach the block to a backing board and install a slanting roof that extends in front of the block to protect it from the elements. Mount the backing board on a sturdy fence, post, tree, or building in a site where the holes will get only morning sun.
Gaiam offers a beautiful handcrafted bee condo made of reclaimed fir posts. Made in the United States, Gaiam pays its artisans a fair living wage.
Orchard mason bees are found throughout the US and some might live in your neighborhood. You can also purchase bees. They are shipped while dormat. A good source is the Territorial Seed Company. You can also contact your local agricultural cooperative extension service.
Interesting Bee Facts You Might Not Have Known
- The bee is the only insect that produces food eating by humans.
- A honeybee’s wings can move 11,400 times per minute – making the dinstinctive buzzing sound we know so well.
- The average honeybee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- It takes 556 bee workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers.
- Worker bees do all the work and are only comprised of females.
- Male honeybees, called drones,
- It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal (this is not the case for those allergic).