Are you busy? Ya, me too. This is why, as much as I want to, I am not a beekeeper. Those industrious and ever so important insects require a boat load of time that I just don't have. But I want to help these pollinators, so here are some tips on how to help bees without the work of beekeeping.
Helping Bees Thrive in Your Garden
1. Plant with bees in mind. When you're planning your garden think of it from a bee's perspective. They like native plants because local plants match the needs of local pollinators. Mix it up and plant a variety of shapes and colors. Bees prefer clumping plants to individual flowers because they're easier to find. Try hyssop, lavender, daises, or coneflower.
2. Avoid pesticides at all cost. You know that pesticides are poison; what you spray to avoid weeds is hurting bees and other vital pollinators. Here is where your organic growing practices not only benefit your garden but also these important pollinators. Use compost instead of chemical fertilizer and all natural sprays when pests invade.
3. Resist mowing too soon. In the spring, one of the first blooms that bees can go to for pollen is the humble dandelion. This ubiquitous yellow flower that pops up when your lawn grows in the spring is considered a weed by many. However, it is vitally important for the bees who are ravenous after over-wintering in the hive. By postponing your spring mowing by just a week or two you are giving bees access to dandelions and a healthy start to the season.
4. Buy products from local beekeepers. Support your local beekeeper by buying her honey at your local farmers market. By doing this you are not only supporting and keeping your business local, but you're avoiding honey that is imported from China (and may not actually be honey).
5. Buy a native bee house. Buy a native bee house and hang it in a location that gets morning sun. Hang it at about eye level so animals can't disturb it. Now walk away and leave it alone. Yup, that's right, no bulky beekeeper veil, no treating pesky hive diseases, and no hive maintenance. Just hang it, forget it, and it will attract bees native to your area.
6. Call your local beekeeping association when you see a swarm. You and your dog are hiking on a trail on a sunny summer afternoon and you spy a swarm of bees. Resist your urge to run for a can of pesticide and instead call your local beekeeping association. Tell them where you saw the swarm and they'll send a beekeeper out to collect it. Bee Culture's website will help you find your local beekeeping association.
7. Bee bath? Providing a water source is appreciated by bees. A birdbath is a good option as well as a shallow bowl filled with clean water.