What is the best way to help out struggling bees and pollinators? If you aren’t a gardener or don’t have a yard, how can you help??
As beekeepers, we have an inside view on the needs of pollinators and we’ve boiled it down to 3 easy things that everyone can do to impact our pollinators.
1. Plant trees and flowers
Bees and butterflies depend on flowers for 100% of their diet. Sometimes, there aren’t enough flowers to feed them.
In Minnesota, our bees can find ample flowers throughout the summer, but really struggle in early spring and late fall. In the hotter climates, summer might be the challenging season! Or winter. Wherever you are, grow plants that flower in the tough periods. Perennials, vegetables, annual flowers, fruit trees, and more!
It may surprise you to know just how much bees rely on trees. Trees are generous suppliers of pollen and nectar. They bloom early and for extended times. Plus – one tree can produce thousands of flowers!
We are continually updating our Trees for Bees Series, so take a look at some of our favorite bee trees.
Don’t have a yard? If you grow a few pots of herbs – bees will come. They love oregano, thyme and basil. Don’t like to grow things? No worries – read on for ways you can help.
Bottom line: grow a variety of flowering plants.
2. Limit and manage your pesticide/herbicide/fungicide use.
Sometimes we need to use pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. That’s just reality. Luckily, there are usually safer alternatives. Look into safer options before you spray – for your health and the health of the pollinators.
When you need to use the chemical treatment, please spray them during times when pollinators are less active. Bees do not fly below 50F, they usually stay in their homes on rainy/misty/windy/foggy days, and they don’t go out in the dark.
Being growers ourselves, we realize most of those options aren’t the best for treatment applications! But – fewer pollinators are out early in the morning or late in the evening, so if you can spray at dawn or dusk you will protect many more pollinators than spraying in the middle of the day.
3. Buy honey, beeswax, fruit, nuts, and vegetables from small farmers.
Small farmers generally choose to use less synthetic chemicals. They often offer “specialty” goods that add plant diversity to our farmlands. Big growers have to have massive crops of one product – soy, wheat, corn, potatoes, or hay – in order to make a profit (or maybe just break even) because commodity prices are extremely low.
Buying directly from ANY farmer gives that person a shot at earning a living wage, and buying from small farmers generally adds to plant diversity (with more varieties of flowers/trees) and may decrease the amount of chemicals used.
So there you have it – 3 REAL ways you can help struggling pollinators. Everybody can do at least one of these things and make a positive impact.