It’s no secret that there are many issues going on with our environment right now, from climate change to habitat loss, it can seem a little daunting to do anything to help. However, there are many simple things that you can do to help! One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to help the bees + other pollinators! They are one of the most important aspects of our natural world and food systems. Pollinators range from the well-known honey bee to hummingbirds and bats. They help our environment by helping plant species reproduce and help us grow food more efficiently. In fact, insect pollination can improve crop yield anywhere from 18-71%! There are many crops that we could not grow without the help of honey bees. We would not have almonds to make plant-based milk and foods without honey bee pollination. So how can you help pollinators, wherever you are?
12 Ways You Can Help The Bees + Other Pollinators
1. Go Native + Leave The Weeds
With over 4,000 bee species in North America alone, it’s important to plant native plants! By choosing natives over exotics, you’re helping pollinators as they definitely prefer and need plants found naturally in their habitat. Natives are also accustomed to your natural climate and are extremely low maintenance! Many butterfly species rely on a certain plant, so doing research on host plants for your native butterflies is a great start. There are also many different flowering trees that help our pollinators such as the Firebush (Native to South Florida) and the Eastern Redbud (Native to the Eastern US, from northern FL and UP!). Also, most ‘weeds’ are native plants so try not to pull them! A great example is Florida’s native Spanish Needle which is one of the top nectar-producing plants. You can also purchase this seed mix for a nice variety of pollinator-friendly flowers that grow well in South Florida and much of the Southeast.
2. Plant By Season
Pollinators are living and working year round. Try to find different blooming plants for each season so they have food all year. For example, the beautiful Monarch butterfly relies on the native Milkweed which flowers seasonally. It’s important to plant your local native species of Milkweed or cut back the tropical species in October and November to help the Monarchs migrate South!
3. Host or Adopt a Hive
Support your local beekeepers by hosting or adopting a hive. Beekeeping requires a lot of work and money, so hosting a hive on your property or simply adopting a hive is a great way to help boost your local pollinator population while supporting beekeepers!
4. Buy Local, Raw Honey
Buying local + raw honey is great for fighting seasonal allergies but it’s the best way to help your local pollinators! Make sure your honey comes from hives near you and that the beekeepers have the honeybees in their best interest. If you’re in Miami, make sure to Contact Us for some of our delicious honey!
5. Buy Local, Organic Produce
We understand organic + local is not always possible but doing your best is what counts! Visit your local farmer’s markets and purchase produce, foods, goods, that are made locally and do the least amount of harm to our environment! Also, choosing organic when possible will help our pollinators because very few chemicals are used which are killing off beneficial insects + animals.
6. Talk To Local Farmers + Beekeepers
Above we mentioned making sure your local beekeepers want the best for their bees because not all farmers and beekeepers choose the best practices. Make sure to call them, ask questions, schedule a visit, etc. to make sure that they choose practices that are good for all beings and the environment.
7. Help The Bees + Make a Bee Fountain
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll see a post we made a while ago about creating a bee fountain. Bees need water and by adding a shallow dish, like this one, with rocks is an easy way to help pollinators grab a drink while they work hard outside. You only need to fill it up about half an inch of water in the dish to help the bees grab a drink. If you’re worried about mosquitoes in the dish, make sure to keep it as clean as possible. This doesn’t give mosquitoes a reason to lay eggs in the water since there won’t be any food for the larvae.
8. Set Up Bee Real Estate
Not all bees have a full colony like honey bees! In fact, most bee species are solitary that make single cells for their offspring. This is why bee real-estate is crucial! You can purchase a bee house like this one for the perfect bee real estate. Make sure to place it at least 6 feet up and place it near your bee fountain to help the bees find it. Also, if you’re okay with having a wild honey beehive on your property, the perfect way to attract a hive is by setting up a birdhouse in one of your tall trees!
9. Say No To Chemicals
It seems common sense that chemicals are very bad for our environment and our pollinators yet we know so many individuals who are still using sprays like Round Up in their yard. Any chemical that is meant to kill plants or bugs (like ants, fleas, cockroaches, etc.) will kill pollinators. There are MANY different natural alternatives to yard management like diatomaceous earth but always treat your yard in the late afternoon/night time when our bee friends are less active. Making simple changes like this will help the bees dramatically!
10. Set Up a Bat Box
Did you know that bats are also pollinators? There are over 900 species of bats in the world and many are heavy pollinators that help our crops. Not only do they help pollinate, but they are also natural bug hunters! Bats in South Florida are known for keeping our mosquito population in check, yet they are declining rapidly due to habitat loss and pesticide use. The best way to help them is by setting up a bat house. Much like a birdhouse, bat boxes offer a place for bats to roost before they set off at night to eat insects.
11. Learn More About Pollinators
Many people fear stinging insects because they believe they’re aggressive and they don’t understand how important insects are. One of the most important ways to help our pollinators is by simply learning about them. You’ll be surprised at how interesting they are and how they only become aggressive when bothered. Also, most people know that honey bees are important for our food system but many are unaware of how all pollinators play an important role! Visit your local apiary for a tour to learn more about our pollinators.
12. Get Involved
Last but not least, one of the best ways to help the bees is to get involved and be a voice for our pollinators! Join local organizations that are helping pollinators, participate in a habitat restoration project, and voice your opinion on these amazing creatures! There are many ways you can get involved but the most important one might be getting involved with your government. If our government doesn’t protect habitat or help species in need, we are going to say goodbye to many vital species of pollinators. Sign petitions, contact senators about what you’d bills you’d like to see, and of course vote for those politicians who have strived to make changes in our environment.
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