The importance of honey bees to our ecosystem is well documented and over the past couple of years, it’s getting more and more attention in the mainstream media as well. The primary reason why honey bees get a lot of press these days is because of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD.
CCD has led to a huge decline in the bee population in the US and Europe. Although the exact cause of the problem is not yet identified, numerous researches suggest that honeybees’ ability to navigate back to a hive is impaired through the use of certain pesticides. Habitat loss and a series of bad summers can also have an adverse impact on the bee population
The decline in the bee population isn’t something that most people give much consideration to. However, these little bugs do more for us than we could ever thank them for. As it turns out, honey bees are very important as they play an essential part in the pollination process by ferrying pollen from one plant to another. Apples, pears, carrots, and onions are a few of the basic food crops that depend on bees for survival. Simply put, without bees, there’ll be no food! Not much of it, at least.
Now that we have established the critical place of these pollinators in our environments, what can you do about it? Well, there are a few things. The main thing that you can do is develop habitats sympathetic to bees in your backyards and gardens.
⦁ Protection and shelter
Bees find it difficult to fly in breezy conditions, so if possible, find a sheltered area in your garden and reserve it for nectar plants, tall shrubs, and trees as they can help act as “windbreaks.”
⦁ Maintain nesting grounds
Believe it or not, some varieties of bees nest in the ground, so in the sheltered area you have developed, don’t be over enthusiastic about tidying up. Let the grass grow a little longer than usual or leave taller clumps that will attract bees. For bees that don’t nest on the ground, their home of choice is something like a dead tree trunk. Unfortunately, you cannot just conjure up a tree trunk from nowhere but you could purchase a man-made beehive.
⦁ Food sources
Honey bees love simple dish-shaped flowers. Plants that are “showy” with a multitude of colorful petals are not much good to bees as they cannot get at the nectar. Marigolds, apples, hollyhocks, and fennel are just some of the plants that bees will be able to extract food from. When choosing plants to attract bees, you should select plants at a variety of heights. By doing so, the bees will be able to stick to the smaller bedding plants on windy days.
Bees also need plenty of water, so if you do not have one already, the addition of a bird bath in or around your “bee sanctuary” is a must.
Attracting bees and developing a hive in your garden may seem like a thankless task but it’s far from it. The US Fish and Wildlife Services reports that over 75% of flowers are pollinated by animals; including butterflies, birds and of course, bees. It’s a fun and rewarding way to go green. Honey bees aren’t just important, they are a necessity. We need our bees so let’s get the buzz going!