Let’s Hear It For the BEES!

It may feel like an old song, but supporting and protecting our pollinators is as vitally important as it has ever been. Even more so. After all, no pollinators – no food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the suspension on data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies survey in 2019 due to budgetary reasons, just weeks after researchers reported that nearly 40% of managed honey bee colonies in the country were lost over the previous winter. Not surprisingly the same year that the former Administration reversed the ban on neonicotinoid usage in the US. Neonics – a class of pesticides that have been directly linked to the decline in pollinators, specifically in honey bee populations. Today, many bee farmers regularly report a 50% loss of colonies.

Because of our dependence on pollinators, every person with a yard, deck, or balcony should plant some combination of vegetation that supports pollinators, and preferably native plants that flower at different times from Spring through Fall. Not ready to replace your lawn with a drought resistant pollinator plants? It’s a big move for sure, especially if you have a lot of lawn. But if you choose to keep your lawn you must boycott pesticide/herbicides and let the weeds be – after all, grass is also technically a weed. And if you can’t keep it alive without constantly watering – then it needs to go. You might consider working in some micro clover. Micro clover creates a less thirsty, weed resistant, chemical-free lawn. It’s not grass, it’s clover – so the pollinators love it. It also stays green year round and is impervious to dog urine, so say goodbye to those tell-tale yellow patches!

When bees become pests, resist calling an exterminator or running to the nearest hardware store for some toxic chemical insecticide. Instead, find a bee handler in your area who is versed in moving hives and nests. You may have seen rock star beekeeper Erika Thompson, Texas Bee Works in her viral videos! This Austin beekeeping company is on a mission to preserve, protect, and increase bee populations across the Lone Star State by helping bees and beekeepers thrive. Wasps are tricky and can be aggressive when they feel threatened, so always stay on the safe side with them, but all other bee species are usually movable if they have what they need to continue to colonize or breed. I’m currently moving the Carpenter bees that love my deck as a habitat. I’m repelling them from their perfectly drilled cylindrical nests (I can’t believe they can squeeze their bumbley bodies into those holes!) with citrus oil, and establishing an attractive Bee House nearby for them to migrate to. Once they are using the Bee House, I’ll move it away from my deck to a shady spot near flowering bushes.

Honeybees are responsible for the pollination and growth of one third of the world’s food. Buying locally, sustainably produced food is vital in keeping the bee’s product close to home. Managing and promoting local crops and habitat for native bee species increases crop production which in turn supports the bees. This goes for honey as well. Locality should be considered beyond the obvious reduced carbon and resource footprint – honey is known to help with allergies, but only of the honey is a product of pollination from the combination of plants in your region. Nutritionally honey offers phytonutrient, antifungal, antioxidant, and antibacterial benefits, but what you find on grocery shelves is often a blend originating from China, India, to who knows where? 76% of grocery store honey has been ultra filtered so tracing the pollination origin is impossible. And many of these products have been shown to include added corn syrup, antibiotics, and herbicides/pesticides/fungicides. Get to know your local honey suppliers and support them. It’s a win-win-win for your health, your local economy, and the bees!

No space to support bees? Consider sponsoring bee support at The Bee Conservancy. The Bee Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bees, safeguarding the environment, and securing food justice through education, research, habitat creation, and advocacy – working towards a day when all bee populations thrive in protected habitats, and are supported by an engaged global network.


What you can do to support bees in your yard or community garden:

  • planting a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year
  • buying raw honey from local farmers
  • buying products from sustainable agricultural practices, as local as possible
  • avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens
  • protecting wild bee colonies when possible
  • sponsoring a hive
  • making a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside
  • helping sustaining forest ecosystems
  • raising awareness around us by sharing this information within our communities and networks. The decline of bees affects us all!

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About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

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