Meme Thomas, instructor for the Honeybee Conservancy classes at Rodale Institute and founder of Baltimore Honey, says there are seven simple ways to help both the honeybee and native pollinator populations in your area right now.
1. Include nectar- and pollen-rich plantings in landscapes. Focus on plants that bloom during the important feeding windows of late winter, pre-spring (February – April) and during the high summer when there is usually a dearth of nectar (June – November).
2. Choose bloom colors that will attract honeybees. Honeybees cannot see the color red, so selecting blooms that are white, yellow, violet, orange, blue and ultra violet is a good idea. Also, plant in clumps or cluster patches of same-color blossoms. Single plants/blooms are much less attractive.
3. Ditch the chemicals (even the organic ones). Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are detrimental to honeybees. Even organic Neem-based products are a no-no. Instead, implement beneficial companion plantings and other no-spray practices in your yard, garden and farm.
4. Welcome the weeds. White clover and dandelions are honeybees’ early- and late-season food sources for nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein). Nutritional deficit may very well be a contributor in honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), so the more natural food sources you can provide, the better.
5. Provide fresh, safe water. Placing layers of large pebbles just above the water line in your birdbaths or even a shallow dish will give honeybees a safe place to rehydrate and rest before returning to their hives. Birdbaths, otherwise, may drown honeybees.
6. Spread the word. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to follow these simple steps to support foraging honeybees across your local community.
7. Buy local and sustainable. Purchase not just honey, but as much of your groceries as possible from local producers who are using all natural methods and practices. Sustainble honeybee stewards ensure their bees are treated well and local, organic farmers provide the right environment for both native and cultivated pollinators.
Want to do more? Consider becoming a honeybee steward and keeping a hive or two on your property (or ours). Learn more about the Honeybee Conservancy at Rodale Institute or sign up for our next beekeeping course today!