Save the Bees – Those Little Buzzers Keep Us Fed.

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016 in Bookshare, Green Living | 41 comments

Save the Bees

Bee on Cranesbill from DK – The Bee Book

Anyone who is at all environmentally conscious is aware of the rapid decline of the bee population. Until I wrote a previous post Bring back the pollinators I was aware of it but didn’t really feel it was my problem.

What weird thinking. Much of our food supply depends on being pollinated by bees therefore the problem definitely concerns all of us. Actually, while no one has pinpointed the cause(s), I believe we home gardeners are partially responsible for the decline with our insistence on manicured, weed-free lawns and flowerbeds.

When we spray plants with pesticides/herbicides the pollen collected by the bees is poisonous. When they carry this back to the hive it either kills the developing bees or weakens their immune system making them more susceptible to disease and predators. Therefore if we’re part of the problem, it only makes sense that we become part of the solution.

Please share this post with all your social media friends and help save the bees. Alone our efforts are limited. Together we can make a huge difference. Let’s do it. The bees thank you.

The following Information is “Excerpted from The Bee Book – copyright Dorling Kindersley Inc. / Used With Permission”.

How can we help to save the bees?  

Bees have some kind of internal mapping system and will return to the most bee-friendly yards. Therefore a good place to start is to make your yard a place where bees want to hang out. Bees prefer yards with a variety of plants – trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables and herbs. By also providing them with plants that bloom at different times throughout the season they’ll be more than happy to stay around. They will need a water source and since they don’t like standing in water they should have shallow water dishes with a dry place for them to land. The dishes should be cleaned and filled with fresh water daily. And of course, no spraying of chemicals.

Save the Bees

1.California Lilac; 2. Apple; 3. Orange-ball Tree; 4. Culver’s Root;  5. Bergamot; 6. New England Aster; 7. Giant Onion; 8. Anise Hyssop; 9. Meadow Cranesbill; 10. Lavandin; 11. Sea Holly; 12. Bowles’ Mauve Wallflower; 13. Orange Coneflower; 14. California Poppy; 15. Thyme; 16. Phacelia; 17. Field Poppy; 18. Lamb’s ears. Mid-height spring-flowering plant – Hellebore and Low-growing spring-flowering Crocus.

 

Not all bees live in hives. There are thousands of different species and some, like the Mason Bees (very effective pollinators), find other places to nest. Unfortunately, because of built-up areas and landscaped lawns they are having a difficult time finding suitable places. We can help them out by making nesting sites for them. The book displays a variety of them – a Clay Bee House, a Wood Block Bee House and even a Pallet Bee Hotel but I was mostly intrigued by the Bamboo Bee House below. It looks neat, is very simple and inexpensive to make, and can be hung anywhere out of the way.

save the beesBamboo Bee House – To Build:

  • Measure and mark 8″ (200 mm) from one end of a piece of 4″ (110 mm) diameter PVC pipe – cut the pipe with a handsaw
  • Cut bamboo 1/2″ – 5/8″ (10-15 mm) shorter than the PVC pipe. As you cut the bamboo make one of the cuts close to a ‘node’ (the knuckle-like joints found at intervals along bamboo canes) so that each piece has an open and closed end.
  • Mark 2 points halfway along the PVC pipe at roughly the 10 o’clock and the 2 o’clock positions when viewing the pipe from its end. Drill holes at both these points.
  • Cut a piece of string about 12″ (300 mm) long. Tie a large knot in one end of the string and thread the free end through one of the holes, from inside to out. Pull it through and insert the free end into the other hole. Tie another large knot in the free end. The string should now form a loop with knots inside the pipe at either end.
  • Insert the bamboo pieces into the pipe, taking care to avoid damaging the knots. The closed ends of the bamboo should all be flush with the same end of the pipe, forming the back of the bee house. Keep adding bamboo pieces until they are packed in tightly and do not move.
  • Different hole sizes will attract different species of solitary bees, but they will not nest in holes over 1/2″ (10 mm). Avoid mixing sizes in the same bee house since pests and diseases can jump between different species that cohabit.
  • Hang the bee house on or close to a sunny wall facing south or southeast, at least 3 ft. (1 m) off the ground, with no vegetation obscuring the entrance.

***

We can join a conservation campaign to learn more about the problem and maybe even help plant new habitats. Citizen scientists (that means you) can monitor invasive pests or log the range of a species right from your own backyard.

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month – a perfect time for you to join a conservation campaign. Any Conservation Group would be delighted to have more volunteers on board.

The book has a large section on Beekeeping and anyone thinking they might be interested in becoming a beekeeper would be well advised to read this book to find out what is involved.

***

On a different level – if we lose the bees we would naturally also lose the bee byproducts, most of which have valuable health benefits, not to mention the economic contribution made by the bee-producers. All in all, the loss would be devastating in many different ways. 

Save the beesCOLD SOOTHER.  A combination of honey and cider vinegar is an old traditional remedy for colds and sore throats, and with the addition of spices it makes a very palatable hot drink. From “Enjoying Bee Bounty” – The Bee Book.

  • 1-in (2.5-cm) piece of fresh ginger root
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder (or 1 tsp freshly grated turmeric root)
  • 4 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Lemon slices (optional)

Makes 1 Drink

HOW TO MAKE:

1)Peel and grate the ginger; the easiest way to peel ginger is with the edge of a teaspoon. Place the ginger in a small pan with all the other ingredients, except the honey. Add ¼ cup (60ml) water, bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

2)Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the honey until dissolved. Strain into a mug and drink while still warm, adding a lemon slice, if you like, for vitamin C. Enjoy it three or four times a day to help relieve a cold.

***

If only one or two of us make changes in order to save the bees and other pollinators we won’t make much of an impact. But if we spread the word and thousands of us do then we can make a tremendous difference, and who knows, we may even be able to help reverse the trend. The bees are in crisis – it  truly is much more important that we stop the decline and do what we can to help to save the bees than it is to remove every weed or dandelion.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

Please share with all your social media friends and help save the bees. Alone our efforts are limited. Together we can make a huge difference. Let’s do it. The bees thank you.

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41 Comments

  1. This is awesome, Lenie. My sister-in-law is going to have her bees delivered soon for the first time soon. She went to a class to know how to take care of them. I am going to share this with her. I love the bamboo bee house project. I will try that one for my backyard. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sabrina, tell your sister-in-law way to go – we need more like her. That is just so great. The decline really is such a concern that we really do need to take it serious. I like that bamboo bee house – I’m going to making a couple because we have 10 acres so lots of room to spread them around. So glad to hear from you.

  2. Lenie- All I can tell is that the bees love my yard. We do not spray and they are very busy at work. It is sad because the benefits of bee pollen are many. It is Immune System Booster. That one thing is a natural benefit. However there are many more. We are so paranoid about getting sting by a bee that we want to wipe them out. Not all insects are bad and bees have a great benefit. Hopefully your message is heard.

    • Arleen, I am so glad that you still have bees visiting your yard. We have a bee, bird and butterfly friendly yard but have noticed a serious decline in bees and butterflies. So we’re doing whatever we can to get them back here and I learned as much from my post as I hope everyone else will. I hope the message gets heard too because if not, we’re all in trouble.

  3. We hve the same problem in UK and people are being encouraged to make their garden’s bee friendly. You may find this article interesting. It talks about a lady keeping bee hives on top of the roof of a London Hotel. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2015/mar/23/beekeeping-in-london-in-pictures

    • Mina, that was fascinating and what a great idea. I wonder if something like that is considered here in Canada in places like Toronto? As to making bee-friendly gardens, please share this post and ask everyone to share because there is some good advice that is easy and inexpensive to follow and can make a huge difference. Glad to see so many people are taking an interest in this subject.

  4. What an excellent post, Lenie. We used to live next door to folks who had honey bees, so I understand a lot about the challenges facing bees and beekeepers today.

    My question is … if I do the things you mention to help and attract bees, will that also attract more wasps to our yard? I hate those yellow jackets and am afraid of being stung by them and also hornets.

    • Doreen, you would attract more yellow jackets and wasps with hummingbird feeders than with a bee friendly yard. They like things like soda pop and even hamburgers. Beekeepers may have trouble with them when they start removing the honey and of course any kind of trash attracts them.
      I’m not the least bit afraid of bees but am petrified of yellow jackets. I had one land on a hamburger I was eating, unknown to me, so I ate it and this things was flying around inside my mouth – that hurt for the longest time.
      Anyway, go ahead and make your yard bee-friendly and maybe move those hummingbird feeders as far away from the living areas as you can. Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Thx for the reply, Lenie. I can’t imagine having a wasp flying around in my mouth! And biting you from the inside. How dreadful!

        • IT WAS.

  5. This is great information on attracting bees. I like how you give individual gardeners ways to be part of the solution. Your bamboo bee house reminded me of yard I toured on a garden tour a couple of years ago. They had several similar bee houses nailed to their back fence with a sign above them which read “All we are saying is . .. Give bees a chance”.

    • Donna, I love that saying – I hope you don’t mind if I use it in tweets? If people realize how serious the problem is then I hope they will grab one of the opportunities to help, it’s not always possible to have a yard so there are other ways. I was thinking the backyard monitoring would be such a good thing for young students to take on for the summer. They are so environmentally aware that I think a lot of them would love to do something like that. Anyway, appreciate the comments.

  6. What an interesting article – though I am in no hurry to build a bee house!

    Without bees there would be no honey – cannot fathom this as it is used daily in my household.

    • Phoenicia, without the bees you’re going to have bigger worries than no honey – think about ever increasing world population and less food available. The bees pollinate something like 70-80% of our food – if that needs to be done by hand, which is both ineffective and costly, the food supply is going to dwindle. Having second thoughts about that bee house yet?

  7. The bee problem is getting a lot of press attention here in the U.S. Who ever thought that those pesky bees that buzz by our food when we’re eating outdoors could so important? But, as you point out, they are. Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention and asking us to spread the word. Will do my best.

    • Jeannette, the problem is getting a lot of press around the world. This isn’t just a North-American problem and that’s why people need to listen and do what they can. We don’t all need to become beekeepers but there is a lot that we can do but we need a lot of us doing it so thanks for helping spread the word.
      Those things flying around your food when eating outdoors are more than likely yellow jackets which belong with the wasps and as far as I’m concerned they could be eliminated along with mosquitoes. The good bees are too busy working keeping the queen happy and the developing bees fed to bother with the likes of us LOL

  8. I run from Yellow Jackets and Wasps, having been stung too often by the buggers. But I love the Bumble Bees and all those other wonderful buzzers. We have two huge Russian Sage bushes and they LOVE them. Any time I’m weeding in those areas, the bees are keeping time with me.
    I never thought about spraying the other flowers and that it could affect the bees. The only spray we use is Deer (and rabbit) Away because our suburb is infested with them. I’ll have to double check this year to see if that has an ill effect on bees (you can see I’m an equal opportunity effect/affect user. Yes, one of my defects!). We keep getting better at planting flowers the critters don’t eat and that helps the bees.

    • Rose, it sounds like bees are still living in your yard and that’s wonderful. I may have to find a couple of those Russian Sage bushes for here. We have noticed a big decline in the number of bees and butterflies that visit and have been working on planting their favourite flowers and other plants.
      Richter’s, the herb growers, have a plant called “Piss-off” plant (seriously) that supposedly keeps critters out of the garden. I don’t bother because while I see deer and rabbits all the time, they don’t really seem to bother up around the house and I do enjoy seeing them.
      As for yellow jackets and wasps, if you can invent a way to eliminate them, I would be your first customer – I have no idea what purpose they serve. 🙂

      • I am totally going to search for the “piss-off” plant, Lenie. We have more deer in our suburb than my brother has–and he lives in the country!
        We put our two hummingbird feeders in the middle of our Russian Sage and our Zinnia’s. It makes the little birds happy and keeps the bees buzzing.
        The wasps are a problem. Have not come up with a way to keep them out of the h-bird feeder, the nasty things!

        • Rose, I hate to tell you but the hummingbird feeders are what attracts the wasps and yellow jackets. If you have the room maybe you could move the feeders to an area where you don’t really walk. I didn’t know about that until I read the Bee Book so I am going to be moving our feeders, they’re too close to the house.

  9. Absolutely, Lenie, we need to save the bees and ultimately the environment.

    • Catarina, if the bees go I believe we won’t be long to follow. If we have trouble feeding the world now it would become impossible without the bees so we have to do what we can to save them.

  10. What great information on bees! Our new house has lots of lilac bushes all around, so hopefully we’ll see some bees this summer. My kids have a love/hate relationship with them, but they understand how important bees can be, so they tolerate them.

    • Meredith, when you mentioned your kids and knowing how crafty your group is, maybe they could build one of the bee houses. It might take away the hate part from the bees (and apply it to yellow jackets where it belongs).

  11. It it’s so sad to think that we gardeners may have been part of the bees demise. You have some beautiful plans and great tips for turning that around and becoming bee heaven. 🙂 I’ve considered putting hives in my backyard. -Think that sounds cool! If I do I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Susan, I think it would be sensational if you would go ahead with the hives. I thought about it and even considered asking a beekeeper to put some hives around our old, old appletree (I think Johnny Appleseed planted it) but it wouldn’t be practical because we are going to have to move sooner, rather than later. So I would love it if you would keep me informed if you decide to go ahead. Gotta keep those little buzzers buzzing

  12. One of the challenges with this is that people associate bees with bee stings. I know in my own household, if I were to announce that I’m going to put a plate of water out on the deck for the bees, it would not be greeted very enthusiastically.

    • Ken, from what you’re saying I think education may be needed. The ‘good’ bees don’t sting unless threatened. Unfortunately yellow jackets do sting and although they really belong with the wasps because of their colour everyone groups them with bees which is unfortunate.But just the same, it is a serious problem, one we really can’t afford to ignore.

  13. Hi, Lenie

    I do not know the numbers of bees were declining to the level of concern. I also share it over my FB and twitter.

    The bees are essential for our life and flowers. Without them, we will have different life pattern. Love the bee house project and the drink for cold.

    Love this report.Lenie!

    Stella Chiu

    • Stella, the decline of the bees is an extremely serious problem, not just here but globally. In our area the beekeepers are losing half or more of their bees and there is all kinds of research going on to find the cause and reverse the trend. There are a lot of theories but nothing really identified. In the meantime we know there are things we can do in our own yards so that’s a good place to start as long as enough of us participate.
      I love the bee house project – that was in the Bee Book along with other ones but that particular one was the one I liked best. Simple and inexpensive, my favourite words. 🙂

  14. Hi Lenie,
    I live in an area of Victoria called Saanich. A by-law forbids us from using chemical pesticides in our gardens. Now, in reading your article, I appreciate even more the wisdom behind this ruling.

    Thank you for the cold soother recipe. I will try it. As always, your posts are educational and make a difference. Thanks, Lenie, and Donna,
    “Give bees a chance”–I love it!

    • Ramona, isn’t that saying neat? It’s unfortunate that we have used so many poisons when growing both our flowers and our food. We didn’t know the harm it could do and also we believed the marketing “This product is all Natural”. We used to get some of those safe products only to find out that No, they weren’t safe. But at the same time we are now facing a serious problem – if the bees go the world is going to go hungry, no two ways about it. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Thanks for this great information Lenie and I will be happy to share. As a matter of fact there is a huge tree next to the stairs from my house and within the next few weeks it will literally come alive with bees after the beautiful white blossoms. The first couple of years that happened I freaked just a little and took the back stairs down from the house for fear of getting stung. But after awhile I realized they weren’t at all interested in me and now I just enjoy the process as an introduction to spring. Oh, and we use no commercial pesticides anywhere around here because of all the critters – dogs, cats, chickens, etc.

    • Marquita, I wonder if I could ask a favour? Would you let me know if there are as many bees this year as in previous years. The decline is a global problem but with Hawaii being an Island and no pesticides used maybe the decline isn’t happening there. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? It would certainly give scientists a good place to study and start the rebuilding process (as long as they didn’t muck things up in the process).
      BTW, I can just see those gorgeous blossoms in my mind. How fortunate you are.

  16. I like posts which are written with an aim to raise awareness for a god cause and this is definitely one of them.

    Though I always knew the importance of bees, but I never took it much seriously until I came across this. My dad is a gardener and we do have plenty of beautiful guests in the form of birds, bees and other insects which like such environment.

    I would like to contribute to this campaign by spreading awareness among people in my network.

    Well done…keep on writing such posts.

    • Thanks Tuhin – I agree this is a very important cause and I’m proud to support it by raising awareness. Thank you for helping – education and awareness are key. As far as me writing more posts like this – I do from time to time if there is a cause I’m passionate about. Up to this point it has been to stop polluting the waterways (Ban the Microbead) and the Pollinators. Both of those contribute to our well-being and to the health of the planet.
      So thanks again, your sharing is much appreciated.

  17. I am concerned about this too. It could be a major turning point where nature cannot recover.

    I also remember the African bee scare several decades ago, when it was warned they would overtake the United States. This could be another unfortunate consequence of our lessening bee population. they will be replaced with something worse, a more aggressive, evasive species of insect we do not want.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  18. Lenie, from time to time I think back to your post from last year about the pollinators. You made me think of an issue that I rarely ever consider. I live in a city so we don’t have yards. However, I live in a back house/apartment that borders on the property next door. There are these trees that border my apartment that always have bees in them. I figure, in California, bees have an advantage because we aren’t allowed to landscape our yards bacause of the draught. However, we can always try to do things better. Thank you for giving out this much needed advice.

  19. Now now, Lenie, yellow jackets aren’t all bad: according to Mother Earth News, “[T]hey are helpful to us by feeding on aphids, caterpillars and other garden pests.”

    • Andy, as much as I love Mother Earth News (I have issue number one, no shiny cover), I totally disagree with her on the usefulness of yellow jackets. On my personal ‘squish-em’ chart, if yellow jackets, aphids, caterpillar or other garden pests were lined up in a row, the yellow jacket would be the first one squished.

  20. I’ve heard about this situation for a problem. Bees do a whole lot for the environment. People should start using a safer kind of pesticide. I’m not sure how true this is but I read somewhere that if bees become extinct the human race would become extinct in 4 years. Crazy to think about.