Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How to help the bees.

After reading the article below, I have been abstaining from my favorite outdoor hobby, weedwhacking, because my lawn is absolutely full of clover...

Extracts from
Five ways to help our disappearing bees
Chris Baskind, Thursday, 03 May 2007

You've probably heard about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) or Vanishing Bee Syndrome, the mysterious and rather dramatic die-off of domesticated honeybees in Europe and North America.

In some areas, losses of honeybees are reported to be as high as 75 percent. The situation means a lot more than high honey prices: bees are primary pollinators in both the human and animal food chains.

There are some things we can all do to assist honeybee and natural bee populations close to home.

  • Plant things that bees like

    Bee-friendly plants are easy to grow. Scatter a variety through your yard, ensuring a good supply of pollen through the warm months. A few general pointers: avoid horticultural plants that are "double." These usually have extra petals instead of anthers. And bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple, or yellow.

    Clover is a great choice. Other bee-yummy plants: sage, salvia, oregano, lavender, ironweed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, honeywort, dragonhead, echinacea, bee balm (guess where the name comes from?), buttercup, goldenrod, and English thyme.

    Flowering trees are also attractive to bees. Try tulip poplars, tupelos, oranges, and sourwoods. Don't forget that bees need sources of shallow water.

  • Provide bee habitat

    Unlike honeybees, natural bees make use of many kinds of shelter: abandoned animal burrows, dead trees and branches, and in underground nest tunnels.

    You can help wood-nesting bees by setting out a few inexpensive bee blocks. These are basically blocks of wood with holes of various sizes. Providing a mound or two of loose earth -- particularly if they're close to a water source -- is like opening a rent-free apartment complex for burrowing bees.

    Hosting a few bee shelters will give you the opportunity to watch your visitors thrive.

  • Eliminate garden pesticides

    Pesticides are bad for humans. They're worse for bees. Investigate organic and natural means of pest control. Chemical-free plants and gardens are a friendly invitation to wild bees.

  • Let your veggies bolt

    If at all possible, allow a few leafy vegetables in your home garden to "bolt," or go to seed, after harvest.

    Seeding plants are a bee's best chance to stock up on food before the colder months. Unlike their wasp and yellowjacket cousins, which die out each winter, real bees slow down and wait for spring. Making sure their larder is stocked will help them snap back once the weather warms.

  • Support your local beekeepers

    Beekeeping as a hobby has declined in recent years. Commercial pressures and unstable bee populations has made raising bees less attractive, but we still rely heavily on domesticated honeybees to pollinate our crops and gardens.

    Seek out your local beekeepers and buy their honey. There are health benefits to eating local honey, and keeping small beekeepers in business is good for everyone.

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