Protect Honey Bees in Your Own Backyard

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Dance of the Honey Bee
U.S. beekeepers have been reporting annual hive deaths of about 30 percent or higher for much of the past 10 years, but this past winter marked the worst loss ever — nearly 40 to 50 percent of the honeybees were wiped out.

This week, the Center for Food Safety is calling on Gina McCarthy, the new director of the Environmental Protection Agency, to make the testing of pesiticides that many believe may be contributing to bee die-offs a priority on her “to-do list.”

In March 2013, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) filed a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to suspend the uses of neonicotinoids, the pesticides banned by the European Union earlier this year.

If you want to support their on-going effort, PAN asks that you write editorials and blog posts, call your local and state representatives, and take the pledge to create a honeybee haven of your own by following the four pollinator protection principles:

1. Protect bees from pesticides. Keep your lawn and garden pesticide-free. Explore organic solutions and control pests with homemade remedies and ladybugs.

2. Provide a variety of food for bees. Clusters of plants with staggered blooming times provide pollen for bees through the year, particularly late summer and fall. Native plants are always best.

3. Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees. This could take many forms: A rainwater collection or irrigation system or a small garden water feature. Shallow water sources can provide enough water for bees, without creating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.

4. Provide shelter for bees. Attract wild bees to your backyard by leaving some dead trees or plants that they might nest in.

A recent study shows that the loss of wild bees may be “an even more alarming threat to crop yields than the loss of honeybees.” Visit the Honey Bee Haven website to learn more about protecting wild bees in your own backyard and post your haven on their crowd-sourced map.

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