Become a beekeeper
Keeping honeybees in your backyard is a great way to help bees. Being a beekeeper doesn’t have to be a major enterprise. One or two hives will provide hours of fun and interest. There are many species of bee with many different nesting needs that don’t require the time and expense of honeybees. Put out homemade bumblebee nests in the early spring or mason bee nests, homemade or store bought, to attract these local pollinators.
Let there be weeds
Many “weeds” such as thistle and smartweed are an excellent source of pollen for bees. Blackberry brambles not only are a food source for bees, they provide shelter. Blackberries also offer protection to many species of songbird, food and habitat, that otherwise would be exposed to danger. Weeds, in their proper place, make gardens and landscapes healthier and better able to handle stresses.
Plant your garden with bee friendly plants
Avoid using overly hybridized ornamentals. Their double blooms are too difficult for insect pollinators to access and often they lack pollen. There are many thousands of other plants to use. On the whole, native plants attract native bees and exotic plants attract honeybees so integrating native species into the garden, while providing colour and interest, will offer support to these endangered insects. Using a diversity of flowering types with a range of bloom times from spring to autumn supports bee populations over a long period.
Buy local honey
Support your local beekeeper by buying their honey. Honey, given the time and effort required to raise healthy and strong bees by the beekeeper (not to mention the very hard work of the bees in making it!), is very under priced. By buying local honey we can put more money into the pockets of our neighbourhood beekeeper where we need bees the most.
Encourage local authorities to be bee friendly
Local, regional, and provincial authorities have an important role to play in conserving pollinator populations. Get involved and express your concern about bees and the environment. Let’s change bylaws to allow backyard beekeeping.
Cut out pesticides
Bees of all kinds are vulnerable to pesticide and herbicide poisoning. Aside from destroying or contaminating forage for bees pesticides kill them outright.
And if they survive exposure the adult bees bring back the poison to their young. Chemicals also accumulate in bee’s wax reducing the health of the colony. Let’s say NO to ornamental pesticide use.
Help to protect swarms
Swarms are the means by which honeybee colonies reproduce. A queen leaves the hive with a retinue of worker bees to seek a new nest. While scouts search the neighbourhood for a suitable place the swarm will hang in a ball keeping the queen warm and safe. Without a nest to protect swarms are actually very safe even though they look scary. They have no interest in people and only want to find a new home. Give your local beekeepers’ club a call to collect the swarm.
Learn more about these fascinating creatures
Bees are fascinating insects. Their behaviour and the niches they fill in nature make them endlessly interesting and surprising animals to study. Join a beekeepers club to hear about the latest news or just take the time in your garden to watch them buzzing about.
Advocate for smart growth
Most often developers and city planners, locally and regionally, have no clue about the foraging and habitat needs of native bees and honeybees. Educate them, be an advocate for bees, help ensure that growth is sustainable and of benefit to all.
Say YES to bees
Most important of all say YES to bees; bees in your garden, in your community, and bees in the world. Bees are all about abundance. The natural world as we know it would not be possible without them. Bees provide over 75% of every kind of food we eat through pollination. And they do this without charging us or asking anything in return. The least we can do is to provide a space for them in our gardens.