With spring's arrival in the Northern Hemisphere, the bees are returning to do their good work. But colony collapse disorder means they are returning in ever diminishing numbers. And that's not a good thing for our food supply.
But there are things you can do to help, and in a new post on MNN, writer Chris Baskind helpfully lists five of them out:
1. Plant things that bees like
Bees are all about pollen. If you want to support the many different varieties of bees which range through your yard, plant some things which will feed them.
Tip: Avoid plants that are "double." These usually have extra petals instead of anthers. And bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple or yellow.
Bee friendly plants: Clover, 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.
2. Provide bee habitat
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 is like opening a rent-free apartment complex for burrowing bees.
3. Eliminate garden pesticides
Pesticides are bad for humans. They're worse for bees. Investigate organic and natural means of pest control. You'll find plenty of tips at OrganicGardenPests.com.
4. 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.
5. Support your local beekeepers
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. You're likely to find them selling honey at local farmer's markets and weekend flea markets. Treat yourself to some filtered or comb honey and enjoy one of nature's treasures.