Picture this: You’re out on a walk this spring. You see the sun’s rays shining down, you feel the warm breeze, you smell the mango blossoms and you hear the … buzzing around your head?! While you may get the initial urge to run when you hear those stinging insects flying around, remember that this is a sign of a well-functioning ecosystem, as bees are vital for our planet.
Research shows that bees pollinate 90% of the Earth’s wild plants, as well as more than 33% of our food supply. They pollinate alfalfa and other grains eaten by livestock, which affects other sections of our food pyramid. As Greenpeace puts it, “you have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food you eat.” Unfortunately, bee populations are dwindling due to harmful chemicals, habitat loss, monoculture farming and more. This is sad for bees, while also bad for our food supply and ecosystems. The good news is, we can still do something about it!
In celebration of World Bee Day on May 20th, the Bug Bite Thing team is connecting our community’s Boys and Girls Club with a local beekeeper to spread awareness and education. Bee-lieve it, we’re just as excited about this event as the kids are and we can’t wait to introduce them to the bees’ importance within our environment.
As our Bug Bite Thing worker bees are buzzing around this week in an effort to save the swarms, there are a few things you can do to get involved, too:
Plant a bee garden.
If you’ve been with us for a while, you know we at Bug Bite Thing love our gardens! Veggie gardens, butterfly gardens, fairy gardens—we’ll take them all, but did you know bee gardens are also a thing? Much like a butterfly garden, planting bee-friendly, native species with lots of flowers can attract pollinators while promoting healthy soil. Depending on which plant hardiness zone you live in, consider adding plants like lavender, aster, sunflowers and goldenrod, choosing flowers that bloom at different times to create a year-round pollinators’ paradise.
Skip the sprays.
While gardening, opt for bee-safe ways to keep out other pests, as even organic herbicides and pesticides could pose hazards. Many mosquito repellents are also harmful to bees and butterflies, so we recommend swapping your sprays for a Bug Bite Thing suction tool, which offers a nontoxic way to decrease the pain and irritation from any after-effects of bug bites and stings. Bonus: the stinger scraper makes it safe and easy to remove any stingers from insects that couldn’t leave you alone.
Make a bee bath.
Gathering pollen and nectar is tough work! To keep bees hydrated while they’re attending to your garden, consider creating a mini bee bath to place near your plants. With a shallow container sprinkled with pebbles, crystals, twigs and flowers, you can give bees a break. Plus, it’s super cute! If you live in an area that is susceptible to mosquitoes, we recommend emptying the bee bath at night and refilling the next day so it does not unintentionally become a mosquito breeding ground.
Trees are an important source of nutrient-rich pollen and nectar for pollinators, so planting native, bee-friendly trees can be just as beneficial as a floral garden, if not more so. Maple, crape myrtle, cherry blossom, orange and other fruiting trees can be great options that look pretty and provide an energy source for bees.
Keep bare patches of soil for ground-nesting.
When it comes to bees, we often think of honeybees and beehives, but there are 20,000 species, and not all of them live in the same way. Some solitary bee species – many too small to sting! – head to dry soil to ground nest. Leaving small patches of bare soil in your yard for these types of bees can enable them to nest and reproduce without harm to humans.
Bring in the professionals for help with bee removal.
Let’s face it, as much as we love the bees, there are some areas and times you may want to tell them to buzz off. There are natural ways to encourage bees to stay outside your home, such as by planting peppermint near doorways or sprinkling powdered cinnamon or garlic on the perimeter of your patio. What happens when they nest somewhere that is just too close for comfort? Rather than removing the hive yourself – which puts you and the bees at risk – call a local beekeeper or ethical removal service to help. The Save the Bees organization has a nationwide swarm removal directory that makes it easy.
Support local beekeepers.
Speaking of beekeepers, another way to save the bees is to purchase locally made honey, beeswax candles and other products – even wine and cocktails! – made with the help of bees. Buying local or from environmentally conscious brands supports the efforts of those working to maintain the honeybee population.
Advocate for the bees.
Giving to organizations like Save the Bees Foundation, The Bee Conservancy and other beekeeping societies and environmental groups is a way to get involved without necessarily getting your hands dirty. From bee research to restoration to the establishment of protected spaces within developed areas, the range of ways to get involved is vast. Advocacy also makes a great gift, as we love the Bee Friends Farm’s option to adopt a honey bee hive!
No matter which route you take, thank you for working to save the bees! As you may come into contact with more of these furry flying friends during your efforts, make sure you have a Bug Bite Thing on hand.