Honey, Be Sweet!
Did you know that August 17 is National Honeybee Day? Let your inner Winnie the Pooh indulge in nature’s sweetest treat, and let’s give a shout out to the heroes of the hive, the honeybee.
Of course, there’s more to these little buzzy beauties than honey production. We need bees to pollinate one-third of our food crops and 90 percent of our wild plants. Without a healthy honeybee population, our abundant food supply would change dramatically.
Over the past decade, bees have experienced a precipitous decline in their numbers. By most accounts, populations are declining at a rate of 33 percent annually. While there’s no smoking gun yet to explain why honeybees are disappearing, the wholesale collapse of one of our most important pollinators has been dubbed colony collapse disorder, or CCD.
According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, CCD is defined as a “dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies but with a live queen, and usually honey and immature bees, still present.”
Don’t despair, there are ways we can help pollinators, and especially honeybees. Here are five quick tips.
- Plant pollen- and nectar-rich plants for year-round feeding. Try planting in patches of the same species and avoid hybrid flowers. Have a diverse selection. Download this PDF for tips.
- Don’t forget about trees. Bees don’t just visit perennial flowers — they go crazy for a tree full of blossoms and their wood cavities make good shelters for them.
- Go pesticide free. Remember that what you use to kill a “pesky” pest will also wipe out butterflies and bees.
- Educate children. Children are fascinated by nature, and they’ll follow your lead. If you teach them that bees are wonderful participants in our food chain, they’ll grow up to nurture them, not just fear a sting.
- Become a beekeeper. There’s plenty of help out there to get you started, and your family/friends will beg for the fruits of your labors.
Got a backyard hive, or dream of having one? We’d love to hear about it.