You know the old saying, no farmers, no food? Well, an equally apt saying might be: no bees, no food. Honey bees pollinate plants and flowers that result in nearly a third of the food we eat. And without them, those plants can't reproduce and grow. But bees are in trouble, and they need our help... in case you hadn't heard.
Since the mid-1990s, bees have been mysteriously disappearing in a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Although scientists don't know exactly what's happening or why the bees are dying out, CCD has been linked to environmental pathogens, loss of habitat and increased exposure to pesticides.
While few lawmakers or big businesses are taking the problem of the disappearing bees seriously, a groundswell of grassroots community activism has sprung up to help protect this important link in our food chain. The Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides have teamed up to create the Honey Bee Haven website and pledge.
You can help honey bees in your neighborhood by taking the honey bee haven pledge and then following these four easy steps to create a haven for bees in your yard or porch.
Protect Bees from Pesticides
Certain pesticides are highly toxic to honey bees. Avoid using pesticides on your yard and home and look for healthy, organic alternatives including homemade pest remedies, introducing beneficial insects (like ladybugs), and keeping your soil healthy with compost.
Provide A Variety of Food for Bees
Plant native flowering plants, bushes and trees on your property or in containers. Cluster flowering plants together and select plants that bloom all throughout the year, especially ones that bloom in late summer and into early fall.
Provide a Year-round, Clean Source of Water for Bees
Any kind of water feature or irrigation system can provide water for bees from fountains to birdbaths to rain barrels. If you're concerned about mosquitoes, shallow water sources can provide water for bees without leaving enough room for mosquitoes to breed.
Provide Shelter for Bees
Wild bees like dead trees and plants as well as undisturbed ground for their nesting areas. In some areas, you can encourage mason bees by hanging up a bee house, just as you would a bird house.
If you grow any plants or flowers at all, you will reap the benefits of your new bee haven as much as the bees will with more flowers, more fruits and veggies, and a healthier local ecosystem.