In keeping with Honey Week here at Eat.Drink.Better, I started looking at the various ways individuals can help combat Colony Collapse Syndrome. One major impediment to the endeavor is that scientists aren’t really sure what’s causing the disappearance of honeybees. Theories range from viruses to environmental and agricultural causes. What we do know is that bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and that this will affect us in profound and irrevocable ways. One-third of the food we consume comes from pollinators. Bees are responsible for pollinating almonds, apples, soft fruit, and berries among other crops. Without them, we will lose more than honey (a tragedy in its own right!), we will lose a large portion of the biodiversity we now enjoy on our plates.
However, there are things we can do at home to help promote honeybees and their way of life.
Sunflowers are hardy and quick growing and bees are attracted to their bright colors. By growing them, we can create a reliable food source. Additionally, initiatives such as The Great Sunflower Project send sunflower seeds to designated growers who then observe honeybee activities around their grown flowers and report back. Other plants that bees like: dandelions, lavender, blueberry, clover and echinacea.
Stop Spraying Pesticides
We all hate the bugs that make our gardens ugly and our skin itch, but these toxic brews are indiscriminate in the kinds of insects they affect. While we don’t know what is causing honeybee disappearance, surely the noxious chemicals that cloud our backyards aren’t helping.
Help Bees Find A Home
If you notice bees swarming, it means a colony is looking for a new hive. Call a local beekeeper who can come and give the community some new digs. If you’d like to ensure a productive garden, you can even keep them for yourself. There are many guides to amateur beekeeping, but The Backyard Beekeeper is a good bet.
Let Your Garden Go to Seed
When you harvest your produce – be it cherry tomatoes and lavender or an elaborate orchard – leave some fruits and vegetables on the plant to go to seed. This allows the bees to stockpile food for the long winter, when they stay in their hives.
And of course, the most important thing you can do is help support honeybee research by donating to a charity or calling up your congressional representatives. Now that we know, it’s time to solve the problem.