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5 Easy Ways to be Bee Friendly

By: Lola Frailey Tuesday November 2, 2021 comments Tags: save the bees, organic farming

honey bee on a noni flower

Bees are not only beautiful and fascinating creatures, they are vital to world food production, nutritional security and our environment. 1 in 3 bites of our food depends on pollination. We need bees and the bees need us to step up to ensure they not only survive but thrive. 

In recent years both native bee and honey bee populations have been decreasing by the billions. According to Bee Informed Partnership, beekeepers across the US lost 45.5% of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021. This is the second highest loss rate that has been recorded since the survey began in 2006. This is alarming.

5 easy ways to save the bees

1. Plant a bee garden

One of the greatest threats to bees is a lack of safe habitat for them to build hives and find enough nutritious food sources. By planting a bee garden you can create a safe and welcoming habitat with plantspassion fruit flowers to help feed your local hives. If you don’t have a big backyard, think about adding window boxes, flower pots or planters to your space. 

Did you know? A worker bee can visit up to 2000 flowers a day. 

Plant local wildflowers, especially those with petals in a single row compared to flowers with multiple rows or layers of petals which are more difficult for bees to reach the nectar. Flowers that are blue, purple, and yellow are much more attractive to bees than pink and red flowers.

Flowers that Bees Love 

  • Asters
  • Bee Balm
  • Calendula
  • Clover
  • Cosmos
  • Crocus
  • Dahlias
  • Echinacea
  • Foxglove
  • Geranium
  • Hosta
  • Honeysuckle
  • Hyacinth (bluebells)
  • Lilacs
  • Poppies
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
  • Verbena
  • Wild Lilac
  • Wisteria
  • Zinnias

Herbs are Bee Friendly too! Many of your favorite culinary herbs are also bee friendly. 

Herbs that Bees Love: organic veggie garden

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Borage
  • Lavender
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Mint 

By planting herbs throughout your garden, you’ll be able to not only add delightful flavor to your meals but if you let some of them go to flower, you will invite bees into your whole garden. The bees will be happy and so will your vegetable plants- they’ll gift you an abundance of produce.

Word of caution: Be careful where you buy plants and flowers. Over half of the "bee-friendly" plants from big box stores across the U.S. and Canada contain high levels of neonicotinoids which are toxic not only to bees but butterflies too. 

2. Provide trees for bees

Bees actually get most of their nectar from trees. A blooming tree provides hundreds to thousands of flower blooms for bees to feed from in a relatively small space. This allows bees to forage from flower to flower noni tree in hawaii without flying long distances and using up their limited energy supply. Trees are also essential habitats. Their leaves and resin make excellent nesting material and cavities in trees provide shelters. With rapid deforestation and urban development taking place around the world, you can help by caring for and planting more flowering trees. 

If you live in an apartment, condo or have limited yard space you can still help by joining tree planting parties in your area and advocate for more green spaces in your city.

Here on the farm we have an abundance of tropical flowering trees. Mango, lychee, longon, avocado, macadamia, citrus, star fruit, coconut and of course acres upon acres of noni. Honey bees have a profound love for noni flowers. Our orchards are a buzz with bees from sunup to sundown collecting the purest noni nectar which gives way to our delicious noni honey. Learn more about our noni honey here

3. Make a bee bath

With all their foraging bees can get very thirsty! Help them stay hydrated by adding a bee bath to your yard. Fill a shallow bowl or bird bath with clean water and add stones or pebbles that break through the water’s surface. The stones will provide a perfect surface for bees to land on and then drink, drink, drink until they are refreshed.

4. Be Chemical and Pesticide Free

Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers have a major impact on bees, and not in a good way. 

What are pesticides?

“Pesticide” is a broad term used for a chemical formulated to kill pests such as: insects (insecticide), mites (miticide), weeds (herbicide) as well as organisms that cause diseases in plants such as bacteria (bactericide) and fungi (fungicide).

Pesticide impact to bees

When bees fly through pesticide-contaminated planter dust from field crops they can be acutely poisoned, meaning they die quickly after exposure and do not return to their hive. Secondly, they can be chronically poisoned at sublethal levels as they forage for pollen, nectar and water over time. The accumulation of exposure causes many negative health and behavior implications for honey bees.

These include:

  • Weakened immune response
  • Shortened life cycles
  • Reduced social communication (impacting efficient foraging)
  • Weakened memory and disorientation (this also impacts efficient foraging)
  • Impaired learning 
  • Delayed larval development and disrupted brood cycle
  • “Gut” microbe disruption eventually causing malnutrition

Pesticide exposure not only has ramifications for the bees as individuals but is detrimental to the health of their entire colony, the viability of its species and agricultural production and yields as a whole. 

How to be pesticide free worm castings

Ditch the synthetics and go organic with solutions like mulch, compost, worm castings and compost tea to improve soil health. 

Mulch: Organic mulch supports water retention and creates an environment for earthworms which are experts for improving soil health. Click here for tips on mulch

Compost: Turn organic plant matter into aged mulch aka “compost” to nourish the soil with beneficial bacteria, fungi and nutrients. Learn the secret to making dynamite aged mulch

Worm castings: Also known as “black gold” contain vital components such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and nitrogen. Save your kitchen food scraps and start up a worm hotel to produce your own worm castings. Click here for all things worms

Compost tea: Compost teas supply many micronutrients to plants in a water soluble form that is easily absorbed. Can be applied to foliage, soil, or both. Easy tips on how to brew your own compost tea 

Many organic farmers also find benefit by adding beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantises to their fields to help keep pests away.

5. Support Organic Farmers

Organic farms significantly support more pollinators than conventional farms. Organic farming principles work with nature improving natural resources and providing a diverse habitat for pollinators to thrive. Organic farming standards also prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides. Learn how to shop for true organic products here

Purchase your weekly produce from local organic farms, farmer’s markets, food co-ops or local health food stores. Many organic farms now offer weekly subscription boxes full of a variety of colorful and organic freshly picked veggies fruits and veggies. For packaged foods, household products and supplements look for brands that create products using certified organic ingredients. 

By supporting more organic farmers and choosing to buy organic products you in turn are supporting pollinator health. Going organic is good for the bees, for you and for the planet.

We hope you’ve found our guide on 5 easy ways to be “bee friendly” helpful. Now more than ever we need to step up and save the bees. 

How are you helping save the bees? Let us know in the comments below.

Lola Frailey

About the Author: Lola Frailey