Helping the Honeybees


The US Department of Agriculture and US Environmental Protection Agency released a scientific report on May 2, 2013 on the health of honey bees. The report found that there are numerous factors for the decline in numbers including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

The world-wide decline in honey bee populations is of great concern because many crops such as almonds, apples, oranges, cucumbers, squash and some beans are dependent on bees.

The USDA-USEPA report found that nutrition has a major impact on individual and colony longevity. As more land has been developed, there is less open space for bees to forage. Farmers are planting large areas of land with high value row crops such as corn thereby reducing the variety of forage types. Finally, modern weed control methods have resulted in the loss of have reduced availability of weeds that once provided valuable nutrition to bees.

What can we do to help? Rather than just pointing the finger at corporate agriculture, we could each help the honeybees by planting the flowers that they favor. As the suburbs continue to spread, more and more land belongs to individual homeowners. If every one planted a few flowers that are favored by the honey bees, that would make a significant difference. Even if you can only plant a pot of flowers, or maybe a window box, that would help the bees in your neighborhood.

So, the next time you are at your local garden center, look for plants such as the following:

Asters
Salvia
Sunflowers
Thyme
Mint
Coneflowers
Bee balm

From a Buddhist perspective, helping the honeybees is one of the several ways to practice generosity which is to offer protection to sentient beings no matter how small they are. Parents and teachers can engage children in planting flowers that bees prefer and thereby teach them consideration and respect for these living creatures who indirectly help keep us alive. Through these small steps, we can help sustain the environment and ensure that we have food to eat in the future.

References

The Honey Bee Conservancy – tips on how to create a bee friendly garden (and much more!).

Bee Keeping for Dummies – includes a chapter on which flowers to plant to feed bees.

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One thought on “Helping the Honeybees

  1. Thank you so much for this practically applicable advice !! I’m on my way to the garden center to buy these flowers to plant around my vegetable garden. I will have my sons help me and teach they why it is important to help the honeybees. Is there a way I can grow honeybees as well? not in cages and not to gather their honey, but just to provide a safe place with healthy food nearby……just wondering. This was my initial thought as I read this article.

    Thank you; Deborah

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