#BeeBold: 4 Easy Ways to Help the Bees (And All the Other Important Pollinators)

This post was created as part of the Friends of the Earth #BeeBold Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own personal experience.

“The bee! The bee! There goes the bee!”

One of Andrew’s favorite books is called The Honey Hunt by the Berenstain Bears and we often have discussions about bees, honey, and making sure bees have a safe place to live and collect pollen. It’s one of those important things I feel I need to teach Andrew considering how crazy the world is right now in regards to the livelihood of this planet and all its beings, like the honeybee — especially the honey bee.

Why is it so important? Well, for starters…

One out of every three bites of food we take is thanks to the work of a honeybee.

In fact, some of our most favorite foods like blueberries, almonds, cucumbers, apples, peaches, and squash are completely reliant on the success and health of our honeybee colonies. Basically, we need the bees to survive and it’s time we start paying attention to the important things in life like sustainability instead of the newest iPhone.

The second reason it’s critical that I teach Andrew about bees is because honeybees are dying at alarming rates. There is a lot of speculation for the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) from all kinds of researchers, but more and more people are pointing towards neonic pesticides being a big part of the issue.

I know it’s always great to have scientific data to back up findings, but honestly a little bit of common sense could link the fall of honeybees with the increased use of pesticides. It might not be all of the problem because I’m sure it is not as simple as “A-B-C” but neonic pesticides are definitely a contributor. In fact, the European Union has put a 2 year suspension on the most widely used neonics in an effort to protect bees. A scientific review by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees.

Neonic pesticides are dangerous to bees because they can kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors while impairing their foraging and feeding abilities, reproduction and memory. Not only that, neonic pesticides also harm other helpful insects and animals that are critical to sustainable food production and healthy ecosystems, like wild bees, butterflies, dragonflies, lacewings, and ladybugs, birds, earthworms, mammals and aquatic insects.

4 Easy Ways to Help the Bees (And All the Other Important Pollinators)

As you can see, it is a domino effect. We can’t assume that just because one creature is suffering, there isn’t a chain of other animals suffering as well. The scary part is neonics can last in soil, water and the environment for months to years to come. That’s why I believe it is so important to think consciously about the choices we make in regards to maintaining our lawns, gardens, and even by choosing organic foods over conventional when we can.

Although the problem is a complex one, there are things we can personally do to help make a difference. The following suggestions are things that I am currently doing in my life to help care for the livelihood of our pollinators. While I don’t see a lot of honeybees specifically, I do see a lot of native bees and I think it is equally important to remember the other species of bees (and other beneficial insects and pollinators).

You’ll find my suggestions are easy to do, require very little maintenance, and can make such a huge impact. Just imagine if everyone took part in the following four suggestions… we would make a world of a difference!

1. Plant bee-friendly flowers

When I first started growing vegetables in my backyard, I thought that I should just grow #AllTheVegetables and forget about the flowers. Needless to say, I was ignorant. Flowers are just as important as vegetables. That’s the thing about Mother Nature, everything works synergistically in a perfect balance.

When you plant bee-friendly flowers amongst your vegetable garden, a very important process happens. You basically get free work from the bees because they pollinate your vegetable blooms AND because other pollinators are attracted to the area, you also get beneficial insects that help protect various veggies from the bad bugs. Once I learned how important it was to have flowers within my vegetable garden, I dedicated two whole beds outlining a corner of my chicken coop to wildflowers. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t have that space, a simple pot with flowers in it can help.

You can do your research on which flowers are great for bees and other pollinators (because we can’t forget about them, either) or you can do like I did and buy a bee-friendly scatter garden. I’m quite busy — and I’m honestly not that great of a researcher — so a scatter garden was definitely the way to go for me. I had great luck with this kind and noticed a plethora of native bees and butterflies come to my garden and help me pollinate things like squash and watermelon when I couldn’t get to them in time.

Thank you, bees.

2. Place a bee house near your bee-friendly flowers

I’ve always wanted a honeybee house but right now, that is just not possible where we are in our current natural living journey. Like I mentioned above, I’m busy and I’m expecting baby #2 in a few months and I’m pretty sure I’ve already bitten off more than I could chew. For me to add an additional aspect of our backyard homestead would be irresponsible. And Scott would kill me.

The next best option for us — which I didn’t know of until I saw the #BeeBold campaign — was to place a bee-house on our property. What I love about a Bee’n’Bee house is that it is low maintenance but it is a great way of being proactive in providing a safe place for our pollinators to thrive.

Although the honeybee is in the limelight for the frightening die-off, it’s incredibly important that we can’t forget about all the other pollinators that are being affected by the overuse of pesticides and chemicals. In the US, there are over 4000 different species of bees and worldwide, there are over 20,000 — not to mention the butterflies, moths, and other beneficial insects.

When I planted our scatter garden, I hardly noticed any honeybees. There were a few different types of bees that I think were considered native mason bees. To help these native mason bees, I decided to provide a bee house in my garden area. For our property, the bee house is perfect near our chicken coop and bee-friendly flower garden. Ideally, you want the bee house to have morning sun and be protected from the elements. To get the same bamboo bee house I have, click here.

3. Don’t use pesticides

A honey bee can visit anywhere from 50-100 flowers in a day. Can you imagine what kind of damage could possibly be done if over half of those flowers contained neonic pesticides? Pesticides are not limited to just flowers, though. Landscaping, lawns, and even gardens contain pesticides and these are all things we have power to change.

The great thing about nature is that you can plant certain flowers, herbs, and vegetables to help attract beneficial bugs that prey on the bad ones. There are also great store-bought natural eco-friendly alternatives and DIY recipes to help get rid of weeds and bad bugs — if they are a nuisance to you.

4. Be aware of pesticide containing seeds/flowers

A study by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute found 36 out of 71 “bee friendly” garden plants – 51% — contained neonic pesticides that are harmful to bees, with no warning to gardeners. What this means is the flowers and plants you’re buying at home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot have a good possibility that they contain neonic pesticides ON the plant themselves. This can be an issue if you’re thinking you’re achieving a bee-friendly environment but unknowingly doing the opposite.

The good news is because consumers are putting pressure on home improvement stores and nurseries, big name stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s are starting to either phase out neonic pesticides or label the plants that do contain them.

Until then, it’s imperative to continue putting pressure by not spending our money there and choosing different alternatives like:

  • Seeking out local nurseries that do not use the pesticides on their plants
  • Join local gardening Facebook groups that do plant swaps or you can buy plants from trusted community members
  • Start flowers and plants by seed using trusted seed companies (here’s a seed company I love and trust)

Doing your part doesn’t have to be hard — try one of these suggestions or all, share this post and other bee-related posts, and if you can, donate to the cause.

This post was created as part of the Friends of the Earth #BeeBold Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own personal experience.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only promote products that uphold to Naturally Loriel's values. More



About

Aside from being a wannabe backyard homesteader who wrangles chickens and free-range kids, Loriel is the owner/creator of the professional natural lifestyle blog Naturally Loriel, owner of the organic spice blend business Naturally Free, and freelance professional food photographer.


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