Three Ways to Help the Bees From Home

Research shows that being outside can help improve your physical health and mental outlook. Even better, helping our furry friends during their peak season of busy-bee activity will substitute positive vibes for the constant negative news stream and relieve tinges of cabin fever – a win-win! Luckily, you can do three simple things from your backyard (or even your small apartment balcony) to help our local pollinators! 

  1. Put Out a Water Feeder for Bees

Bees are extremely busy at this time of year. Forager bees visit up to 2,000 flowers a day and can fly up to six miles a day! Bees drink water like all creatures, but they also need water to bring back to their hive or nest. Native bees need water for mud, which they nest with. Honey bees use water to dilute honey, feed babies, and regulate temperature within the hive. They do the renowned waggle dance to communicate to their sisters where good nectar sources are located, but they can also spread the word on a good water source that way as well. 

One great way to help hydrate our thirsty pollinator friends is to provide a bee bath or bee water feeder! Take a shallow dish or bowl, put some rocks or marbles in it, and add just enough fresh water that the tops of the stones are not submerged. If you have a garden, you can put your bowl or dish on top of an upside down flower pot somewhere protected and shady. If you don’t have a garden, set your dish outside wherever you are able. Change the water frequently and clean the bee bath weekly! Here is a great example. 

Materials: 

  • Shallow dish or bowl

  • Stones or marbles

  • Fresh water

  • Optional: plant pot (as a base for the dish) 

2. Plant Pollinator-Friendly Plants

Another way to help is to cultivate a bee-friendly garden. Bees are at their busiest right now and they can use all the nectar and pollen they can find! To start, learn about your area’s microclimate. Check out the Plant Hardiness Map to see where plants will thrive in your space. Planting native plants and flowers is key for attracting bees! 

Do you want to ONLY eat kale all day every day? Like us, bees love a diversity of food to eat! Planting a variety of plants is a great way to attract many types of pollinators. This resource has all you need to know on how to plant a successful bee-garden! Some fan-favorite plants are lavender, lilacs, clover, honeysuckle, bee balm, aster, buddleia, (aka butterfly flowers, but bumblebees love them too), sunflowers, and poppies. Bees also love easy-to-grow herbs like sage, rosemary, oregano, mint, chives, fennel, and thyme! 

Low on space or resources? Even a balcony in a busy urban area is a promising location for flowers! To maximize space and minimize cost, consider plants that have both nectar and pollen such as coneflower, thyme, or blanketflower. Your local pollinators will appreciate whatever you can provide! 

Another thing to do is to relax on the weeding! Some weeds do an excellent job of supporting wildlife; lawn clovers and dandelions are quite popular for pollinators. Oh, and remember to stay away from using pesticides

Find out how to avoid seeds with pesticides and where to acquire seeds here!

 

3. Provide Homes for Native/Wild Bees

Honey bees get a lot of media attention, but native or wild bees are struggling quite a lot too. 

You can easily provide a place for native bees to live! Most native bee habitats are in the ground or in other cavities, like a rolled up leaf or a hollowed out piece of wood. Leave a small section of your available landscape unmulched for ground-nesting bees! Another great way to help these important creatures is by making a bee house. One popular way to make these is by drilling holes in a block of wood, but make sure to replace them every year, as the bees nest in them by creating mud walls to keep their larvae safe. You could also leave a small area of the garden completely undisturbed to let nature take its course! 

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