GET YOUR HIVE ON
Keeping your own hive is not only a great hobby, but also a way to raise healthy honeybees and ensure that the plants and crops in your surrounding area are being pollinated. The backyard or rooftop beekeeper has a more productive garden as well as the added benefit of harvesting honey in the fall. If you’re interested in starting your own hive check out our Beekeeping 101 and take the first step to becoming a beekeeper.
PLANT FOR POLLINATORS
Planting a pollinator garden helps honeybees immensely. Bees rely on the nectar and pollen from nearby flowers for their survival; when flowers are scarce, bees can starve. By planting a pollinator garden, you're ensuring that bees have a source of food year round -- just be sure your garden is pesticide free.
Unless you have particular bee allergies, don't be afraid of attracting pollinators to your property. The "bees" that give most people trouble — yellow jackets, wasps and hornets — aren't true bees, they're relatives. They're carnivores, and won't be attracted to your plants.
Want to learn which plants are right for your planting zone, or how to get organic seeds? Check out our Pollinator Garden resource page.
GO PESTICIDE FREE
Pesticides are harmful to humans and worse for bees. The chemicals and pest control treatments used on lawns and gardens weaken bees, and are especially damaging if applied to flowers in full bloom. Research shows that neonicotinoid pesticides linger in the nectar and pollen of flowers, where bees are most likely to come into contact with them. These treatments weaken bee immune systems and make them more susceptible to disease and infestation by pests.
For resources on bee-friendly means of pest control, read our Natural Pest Control guide.
By buying local raw honey, you support local beekeepers and their bees, and therefore the environmental health of your own town or city, as well as your own health. Unlike pasteurized honey, raw honey comes straight from the hive and is unheated, unpasteurized and undiluted, which means it retains all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and delicious flavor. As an added bonus, raw honey is a well known healing remedy for minor burns and abrasions, and can provide soothing relief for colds and flu. By buying only local raw honey, you help keep yourself and your local community healthy.
Honeybees feed on the flowers from nearby crops and ornamental plants, and it is vital that these not be coated in substances that could weaken the hive. Many small-scale growers now integrate organic or permaculture practices into their farms. This means farming without the use of pesticides, and planting a variety of crops instead of just one. That's great news for bees. Look for labels that say "grown without pesticides" at your local store, or visit your local farmer's market and ensure that the products you buy are bee-friendly. Buying local and organic is a great way to support the bees and your own community.
SWARM? NO PROBLEM
Swarming is a natural process that occurs when colonies of honey bees have outgrown their hive. If you see a swarm, contact a beekeeper's association; many bee-conscious groups will collect swarms to keep or relocate them to a safer new home. Honeybees in a swarm are very gentle and present very little danger, but can be made aggressive if disturbed or sprayed with water. Just leave them alone and wait for help to arrive.
BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Ecologists and researchers interested in honeybees have started reaching out to citizens for help in huge research projects. You can provide vital information to these projects, all of which add to our knowledge of what we can do to help the struggling honey bee. Check them out and get involved!
Planet Bee's ZomBee Watch Project– A brand-new Citizen Science lesson created by Planet Bee and created in collaboration with Professor John Hafernik's ZomBee Watch program. This 3-day lesson involves the construction of light traps in order to catch and examine "ZomBees", or bees which have been parasitized by zombie flies.
The Great Sunflower Project – The world’s largest citizen science project, aimed at gaining a better understanding of pollinators and their conservation.
NASA Honeybee Net Study – investigates the relationship between plant and animal life cycles by measuring the weight of honeybee hives throughout the year.