How to be bee-friendly? Saving the bees is a big job – but taking action is easy and absolutely everyone can make a difference! There are many things you can do to help to save the bees and I will mention few of them farther on. Before I talk about solutions, however, let’s learn more about the bees importance and the problem with bees extinction.
Why are bees important?
Believe it or not, you have a bee to thank for one in every three bites of food you eat. Bees are essential to life in Earth. They transfer pollen from the male parts to the female parts of flowers. Without this process, many garden plants would not be pollinated and so would fail to produce the fruits, vegetables and flowers. Honey bees perform about 80% of all pollination. This basically means, that around 80% of the food we eat comes from crops that have been pollinated by bees. According to the researchers, when the last bee on Earth dies, humanity will have only 4 days left.
Did you know that single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day?! Those hard-working insects have to visit 2 million of flowers to collect 454 g of honey! What’s even more surprising, they are able to recognize individual human faces, so they know who is their bee-keeper.
Since ancient times many civilisations appreciate bees and honey plays an important role in many religious. For instance, the kingdom of Sparta in Ancient Greece took ideas from bee colonies, especially regarding discipline, organisation and administration. The Bible, ancient Hinduism or prophet Hazard Mohammad mention honey and bees as well due to their medicinal and dietary importance.
Why are bees in danger of extinction?
Bees are officially on the extinction list. Since the 1940s, honeybee colonies have decreased from 5 million to 2.5 million. Unfortunately, a deadly mix of pesticides, parasites, and climate change have put bee populations in crisis around the world. Industrial agriculture methods, parasites, and climate change are killing off bees in droves, and the widespread use of bee-harming pesticides are particular threats to honeybees and wild pollinators. Without them, feeding the world’s growing population will be impossible. It’s time to ban these damaging pesticides and protect our vital pollinators.
How can I help to save the bees?
Even in my home, near Sandomierz, Poland, extensive agriculture destroyed most of the wild flowers, herbs and uses dangerous for bees pesticides. The bees are rare to see even though I live in the village. Time Travel Bee has little garden around house and goes far away by bicycle to collect herbs for my well-being (or rather well-beeing). Since I was a child, I was a florist in our house and making a bouquet was always my little responsibility. While a house without a bouquet doesn’t feel homey to me, these days I got to leave the flowers for my bee-sisters.
Each one of us can help to save the bees. There are so many ways to support our pollinators in crisis. If you are wondering how you can contribute, here are few ideas to save the bees.
1. Plant a bee-friendly garden
Have you noticed the modern gardens have mostly lawns? Where are the flowers gone? Having your own garden or flower beds, you can help the bees by planting flowers. Rethink your lawn and make some space for other plants. Having no garden, you can make a flower bed on your windows or balcony. Little gardens do not need a lot of space. Planting bees friendly flowers will attract a lot of insects. Plant flowers with single top – double top flowers have less nectar. Avoid hybridized flowers which almost don’t have pollen – basically the more natural you go, the better. It’s very important that you only use natural pesticides and fertilizers in your garden.
So which are the most bee friendly flowers? Save the bees by planting: lavender, bluebells, daisies, bee balm, chives, crab apple trees, yellow mustard, calendula, sunfower, mahonia, corcuses, hyacinth, asters, borage, calendula, hawthorn and many others. Wild herbs which you use for cooking or as a remedy for stomach ache or a cold, like mint, thyme, oregano or rosemary, are perfect friends for the bees. They don’t take much space, are simple to grow and are useful. However, remember that they can be useful for the bees only, when you let them bloom.
2. Don’t weed your garden
For you some plants are weeds, when for the bees great source of food for bees. Most of them are also food for us or have some medical purpose. Let’s take for instance dendalion, which is really common but people don’t appreciate it often. It’s a great friend of the bees and is very healthy for us. I add the fresh leafs of dendalion to my green cocktails and used flowers to make an oil for muscles pain. Not to mention other weeds like nettles or wild daisies, which are also beneficial for our health. I believe in every aspect of our life, we should try to find balance. I am sure there is a way to have a pretty and bee-friendly garden at the same time. Rethink your lawn once more.
3. Make a bee bath
If you create bee friendly garden, you can also make a bee bath, as bees need water to refresh. Place clean water plate near the plants with used wine corks for example as a landing spots for the bees. Make sure the water is always fresh for the bees which come back to your place to “take a bath”.
To help saving the bees, you can also volunteer in your city or area to advocate sensible limits to development. Street corners or flowers along roadways and other public areas count and can be a great contribution to save the bees and make the city or town more pretty. Check where are the closest bee-gardens, and learn if you can help them.
5. Support local bee-keepers
Honey and propolis are the great remedies for a cold as well as strengthening your immune system. It’s also a healthy alternative for sugar. However, avoid buying honey in bulk from a supermarket, as the quality is bad and you are never sure what the source is. It’s better that you get honey from local bee-keepers or the farmers market. Buying local products increases sustainability. Remember, that bees make not only honey, but you can replace commercial cosmetics with the natural, made out of the bees products. Many beekeepers use products from their hives to create soaps, lotions and beeswax candles. What you need to do now is to check, where are the bee-keepers in your area and learn how you can help them or simply go shopping.
6. Eat organic food
Eating organic is one way of supporting the banning of pesticides. Planting your own vegetables is not only healthier but also supports the bees. If you are not having a garden, make your groceries at the farmers market or organic store.
7. Take care of the native bees
Native bees have no access to man-made hives. They create nesting tunnels in the soil, and having a garden, you have influence on their life cycle. Weed barriers or artificial ground covering will disturb the nests as well as mowing to often. Leaving some leaf and stems until spring will benefit all the hidden pollinators by giving them the time they need to complete their annual life cycles. During spring, wait for the bees to start gardening and planting. The native bees wake up when there are lots of flowers blooming already.
You can also build a little house for the wild bees. Some of them live in the holes of walls or old trees. A little house with hollows will be a perfect shelter for bees in your garden.
8. Sign a petition
There were several petitions to ban bee-killing pesticides in different parts of the world. I like to check open petitions from time to time on change but please do a research about your country in particular. Greenpeace also runs a campaign about saving the bees, which you can sign on the sos – bees site.
9. Become a bee-keeper
Everyone of us can become a bee keeper. The Plan Bee is a project which takes care for developing the bee keeping. When I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is the most sustainable city I have been, I saw bee hives in the public spaces. Moreover, bee-keeping does not require land since hives can be placed on the roof. Bee-keeping is something that everyone can do in their backyard in the leisure time. Simultaneously, it can generate additional income for the family and significantly improve nutrition. A typical hive will produce around 12-15 kg or more honey each year.
10. Sponsor a bee-hive
If you don’t wish to be a bee keeper, you can buy a box hive for a family in poor country, through good gifts website or donate $60 to Hunger Free World in Bangladesh to raise the income levels in rural areas through bee keeping and honey extracting.
11. Buy a bee-gift from Time Travel Bee
Because I am a Bee, I am trying to promote bee-keeping and initiatives saving the bees. I decided to make these cute bees earrings – it’s one of my home made productions. This is my pledge to donate 40 % percent from the purchase to the Greenpaece project saving the pollinators. Learn more about the earrings here.
12. Inspire the others
Not everyone is aware of the bees being under extinction. Some people are scared of any buzz they hear, even if there is no danger. Bees never attack human. They sting only if they are really disturbed and die few hours after. We need to educate each others on how to help to save the bees and how to respect them. Show the good example in taking care of the bees. Share this post to those, who can find it useful. Bee-friendly!
How can you help to save the bees while traveling?
Supporting local bee-keepers and helping the bees is possible also when you travel. In order to save the bees we need to make a positive contribution on climate change. Each choice we make can make a difference. Being responsible traveler, remember buying food from local markets and producers, try to stay in eco-positive hotels and whenever possible use eco-tours and other eco-initiatives. I am a big fan of slow travel and living like a local while traveling, which make a positive impact.
Another great way to generate positive impact while traveling is volunteering for the eco-friendly initiatives. Pick an organic farm to volunteer in or local organisation supporting bee-keepers. You can also volunteer in planting flowers in empty public space. Always keep in mind that by making small steps we can make a big difference all together.
Also while traveling, you can visit the bee-keepers and buy their products. Honey, candles and natural cosmetics from bee’s products are great souvenirs to bring home. Every responsible travel comes to doing a research before. Learn if there are some eco-friendly initiatives, where you are heading for the trip or NGOs supporting “save the bees” action. Volunteering abroad is a great way to contribute to positive changes in the environment while traveling. Check WWOOF for a volunteering opportunity on the eco – farms as well as Work Away for option to help in the bee-garden. Spread the Bee-friendly message!
“Bee the change you want to see in the world!”
The Bee is a nature lover and tea addict. Loves the idea of slow life and responsible traveling, constantly trying to improve to bee more eco-friendly. Appreciates old cultures and traditions, loves to immerse with locals, listen to ethnic music as well as taste regional food and drinks. Her favorite spots while traveling are family houses and street markets.