The honeybee is in danger of extinction. Attacked by virulent viruses, almost all colonies in the wild have disappeared, and if we’re not careful, they’ll be gone for good in a few short years.
There are a number of easy ways you can help honey bees to survive and thrive.
Plant bee-friendly flowers: Honeybees rely on garden flowers for nectar and pollen. Flowers are also crucial to provide the honeybee with a varied diet. Invite the honeybee into your garden by planting single flowering plants and vegetables.
What are the best flowers to plant?
- White clover
- Ling heather
- Bell heather
Don’t use chemicals or pesticides in your garden: Sure, they might help make your garden look good but chemicals are harmful to the honeybee. If flowers are sprayed with chemicals while in bloom, the toxins can sink into the pollen and nectar, which the honeybee collects. The bee then brings this contaminated nectar right back to the hive where it can infiltrate the honey we eat.
Buy honey from a local beekeeper: Support your local beekeeper by purchasing their produce. If you buy honey locally, it helps beekeepers to cover their costs, and the products do not have to travel far to reach you. You’re also helping ensure that the beekeeper has the resources to keep the honeybee in a healthy environment. The honey you get from a local beekeeper is pure, free of additives and nothing like shop-bought, mass produced varieties. Its taste is second to none.
Bee-friendly: When most people see a honeybee, their first reaction is to scream and flap their hands, slapping them away. But believe it or not, the honeybee is not out to get you. If you see one in your garden:
- Remain calm and slowly walk away. If a bee lands on your shoulder, stay still. It is thought that bees can ‘smell fear’, leading them to sting to protect the hive. Remain calm, and they’ll lose interest
- Do not stand in front of a hive opening or pathway to flowers. If you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours
Welcome the weeds: Let dandelions and clover grow in your garden as they are among the honeybees’ favourite foods. These colourful blow-ins provide nourishment and pollen for the bee to make honey and feed its young. If you don’t want an overgrown garden, at least keep a wild section for the bee so it can get the nutrients it needs.
Buy organic: Organic produce has no commercial pesticides, fertilisers or herbicides. Buy organic food and fibres to support the honeybee.
Hydrate them: Honeybees need water to keep cool, use stored food, and help digest and metabolise food. Make sure you’ve got a supply of water for the honeybee in your garden.
What are the best ways to leave water for the honeybee?
Make sure the water is fresh, in a container that’s both shallow and wide. Always add floating rocks or twigs so the bees have a place to get near enough, but not drown, in the water. A birdbath with stones is an easy way to give them the hydration they need.
Become a beekeeper: Beekeeping associations run courses several times a year to help people take up beekeeping. These normally provide help finding the equipment required and, of course, a colony of bees. Sign up for one of these courses and begin the adventure of beekeeping!
If you feel you wouldn’t be up for the role of beekeeper, simply learn more about the honeybee – they’ve been around for about 25 million years. Invite a beekeeper to speak to groups of children or adults in your local community. The beekeeper will educate you on the importance of the honeybee and what you can do to help it survive.