In case you haven't heard the news, it's kind of a bummer: Bees are in trouble. A condition called Colony Collapse Disorder is devastating beehives around the globe, leading to the deaths of millions of bees worldwide.
The EU recently banned four pesticides believed to be contributing to CCD in efforts to help bee populations rebound. But whether or not the chemicals are to blame still isn't totally clear.
Bees play a vital role in our food supply. They do billions of dollars of work for free, pollinating many of our food crops. It's estimated one in three bites of food in the U.S. comes from the handiwork of a bee, and losing that aid would severely devastate food supplies and drive prices up beyond belief.
1. Ditch the chemicals: If you use any type of garden pesticide or herbicide, you could be making life difficult for bees. Turn to natural treatments instead, which are better for your health as well.
2. Grow bee-friendly plants: Wildflowers, tomatoes, zucchini—these are just some of the plants bees love to pollinate. Giving local colonies another healthy stop for food is a gift that keeps on giving. You give them flowers and they'll give you food and fragrance…not a bad deal.
3. Check your compost: While composting is highly recommended, if you're mixing your own food scraps with a store-bought garden compost, you may be purchasing imidacloprid, an insecticide used to prevent vine weevil contamination. But it can also be harmful to bees.
4. DON'T start a beehive, especially in the city: Urban farming is all the rage, and many folks are adding beehives to the mix, putting hives on city rooftops. But experts have suggested this is not an ideal practice as cities like London now have more bees than there is food for them to eat. If you're thinking about starting up a beekeeping, make sure there are plenty of food sources for them in a square mile radius.
5. Support local beekeepers: You don't need to start your own beekeeping practice to support bees. In fact, chances are there are already long-time beekeepers in your area who could use your support to continue their work. Buy local honey, beeswax, bee pollen. Every bit helps.
6. Keep wild areas wild: Stay up to speed on what kind of building developments are going on in your community. Are local parks and wild areas being razed for new Wal-Mart locations? Every time wild land is destroyed, you can bet there's a bee who has to look elsewhere for dinner. Becoming active in your community to preserve nature can be a boon to the bees!Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger1st bee photo credit: Andreas Krappweis2nd bee photo credit: Gölin Doorneweerd - Swijnenburg3rd bee photo credit: Piotr Ciuchta