Globally, 40% of invertebrate pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies, are facing extinction. And since approximately three-quarters of the world’s food crops depend on pollination, the decline of these pollinators could pose a threat to food security around the globe.
Here in the United States, American bees aren’t faring any better. Seven species of Hawaiian bees were just declared endangered, and there are fears that other bee species may soon join them. In fact, researchers discovered earlier this year that U.S. beekeepers had lost more than 42% of their honeybee colonies since 2015. While the insects are under threat from all sorts of things, it’s believed that pesticides, pathogens, and climate change are driving the decline.
While apiarists are hard at work supporting commercial honeybee populations, experts suggest five simple things we can do to help the struggling wild bee populations.
Put out nesting materials. In cold climates, late winter is a good time to put out nesting materials, such as blocks or boxes, for bees to use in early spring.
Plan and plant a bee-friendly garden. Quite simply, flowers provide bees with food. A diversity of nectar and pollen sources is critical for pollinator health. For more tips on planting bee-friendly gardens, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.
Keep your garden chemical-free. Pesticides and other chemicals can be toxic to bees and other pollinators.
Give bees water. If you see bees in your garden, put out a small basin of water for them to drink.
And finally, buy local. Support local beekeepers who use sustainable and bee-friendly practices. And support local organic farms because they provide pesticide-free habitats for native bees.
Let’s all do what we can to help bees. The stakes are high.
Photo, posted May 26, 2008, courtesy of John Flannery via Flickr.