It's no secret that the declining bee population is an increasingly urgent issue. In the US alone, controlled bee colonies have decreased by 45% in the last year. Considering that bees populate 70 of the 100 plant species that feed 90% of the world, that's bad news. Without bees, most of the food we eat would be unavailable. That includes more than just fresh produce; coffee, chocolate, and wine would also be on that list. We'd also be without alfalfa to feed our cattle and cotton to make clothing, linens and more. With so many everyday essentials depending on bees to, you might start asking yourself, "What can I do to help the bee population?". Well, there are many things you can do to help the bees. Best of all, most of the solutions are incredibly easy and require minimal effort!


1. Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers

Thanks to intensive monoculture-based farming practises, pristine green flowerless lawns and the destruction of native landscapes, bees have lost much of their natural habitats. You can help rectify that by planting bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs. You don't have to spend fortunes getting these flowers. Seed packets of wildflowers are inexpensive and easy to grow. Do a little research and see what grows well in your area, and plant plenty of the same flower together, bees love feeding in mass! A few examples are: lavender, cosmos, poppies and sage. For more suggestions, visit this list from honeylove.org.

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2. Don't Use Chemicals/Pesticides

While pristine lawns are lovely to look at, they can damaging to bees. The chemicals and pest treatments used in lawn maintenance cause damage to the honeybees systems. The chemicals are especially damaging if applied while the flowers are in bloom, as the chemicals get into the pollen, which then gets carried back to the bee hive, where it gets into the honey, which is then consumed by humans. When gardening at home, organic is the way to go. There are many solutions to controlling pests and encouraging growth in an organic garden; you just have to look!

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3. Ease Up On The Weeding

While a lawn with clover and dandelions might look messy to you, it looks like an all you can eat buffet to a bee. Don't worry too much about letting your weeding slide. Wildflowers (many of which get qualified as weeds) are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees. If there is something that you really want to get rid of, try leaving it alone until it flowers, and then pulling it before it goes to seed.

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4. Buy Local, Buy Raw

Truly local, raw honey can be tough to find, but it's worth the work. Local raw honey is made close to home and without any chemicals in the hive. Not only is this better for the bees (and you), the pollen in raw honey can help lessen allergies. The best way to find this type of honey it to visit your local farmers market.

Buying local when it comes to produce can also help. Purchasing from a local farmer means eating seasonally and that the food is not coming from a monoculture environment. Visit your local farmers market, or look online to see what kind of local eating initiatives your city offers.

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5. Give The Bees A Drink

Just like any other living thing, bees need fresh water to survive. Bees use water for cooling the hive by evaporation and for thinning the honey to be fed to larva. Bees are experts at locating water, and one of most helpful things you can do in your backyard is to make a water garden. The basic idea is to give bees a good footing so they don't slip in and drown, and that the water stays fresh. For a step by step, check out the article here.

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6. Give Solitary Bees a Home

Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, solitary bees do not live in colonies. In Britain, there are over 200 species of the solitary bee. While they don't live in colonies and make honey, they are still a very important pollinator. Depending on the species, they will nest in small tunnels or holes in the ground or in sandy banks, starved lawns and hollow stems of dead plants.

You don't need to worry about housing solitary bees so close to home, as they are non aggressive and harmless. Unless you squish them between your fingers, they won't sting you. You may purchase bee houses online, or even at your local greenhouse, but a less expensive option is to make your own. The tutorial here will show you how.

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