Nearly 10 years ago, beekeepers across the country en masse began to report that healthy colonies of bees had left their hives and not returned. Researchers believe that several factors including global warming, pesticide use, habitat loss, and parasites are to blame for the vanishing bees.
Dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, the condition that has been causing honeybee populations to plummet for the past decade continues to take its toll in 2015. The result is a loss of one-third of all honey bee colonies in the United States putting the number of hives at its lowest point in 50 years.
The role bees play in pollination is unrivaled. Their work in transferring pollen from flower to flower helps not only wild plants thrive, but also keeps commercial agriculture in our country flourishing. More than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees including apples, berries, almonds, cucumbers and broccoli. While we wouldn’t starve without their services, we would be losing a lot of healthy food for our tables and a lot of money from our economy if bees were to completely disappear.
As government agencies attempt to take steps toward bee conservation, individuals and families here in Kentucky can make a difference too. Remember to avoid using chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn and garden as they can be harmful to the bees. Some pesticides kill individual bees while others are transported by the bees and harmful to the rest of the hive.
Also, while not everyone is willing to take up amateur bee keeping, a backyard bee garden is an easy way to help these insects in our own backyards. As bees lose habitat due to the destruction of native landscapes, even a few plants in a planter can help provide forage.
Here are a few plants that will help attract bees in the spring and summer: Lilacs, Lavender, Russian Sage, Wisteria, Mint, Sunflowers, Black-Eyed Susan, Rosemary.
Bees also need natural “weeds” like dandelions and clover. Allowing part of your yard to be a “no mow zone” will attract bees and can also help reduce your carbon footprint. “Bee” proactive and you can ensure the future of our buzzy friends as well as your favorite garden fare.