I hear a lot of buzz (yes, pun intended) about the bees and that they collectively need saving. Environmental factors caused by humans such as climate change, use of insecticides/pesticides in agriculture have led to their struggle to survive.
This all makes perfect sense to me, causing me to pause for concern...and frankly it should be a bit worrisome to you as well.
Bees keep plants and crops alive and without them, us humans would not have very much to eat.
The bee crisis is apparent for the almonds that are grown in California. Every year, almond farms need help with pollinating the almond trees – so each year, millions and millions of honey bees are trucked from all across the country to California to make the almond harvest possible.
We use quite a lot of honey here to make our granola. When an average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime… I sometimes stop and just try to visualize how many bees it takes to make that 3,500 pound tote of honey that is delivered here about every three weeks – it is really mind blowing!
So knowing that I need a lot of honey and knowing that the honey bees (and bumble bees) are in trouble, I set out several years ago to find ways to do my part to help.
I started a garden in my backyard – not a super big garden but big enough to grow some produce for my family and still have some to share with neighbors and friends. Growing a garden isn’t for everyone – for starters, I think you have to be an eternal optimist and keep that “glass half full” mentality. You must be patient, not be afraid to get sweaty and dirty and you must be willing to sign up for weekly, week-end tending to your little plot of ground.
My little back yard garden...paradise to me, and hopefully to the bees!
The first year I grew many vegetables, tomatoes, beans, squash and my very favorite, cucumbers. Cucumbers are usually very easy to grow – and usually have very high yields in my climate. I had much success the first year I grew them…but not so much since. My cucumbers began to have very low yields and the ones that did grow, turned into this deformed looking cucumber that really looked like a cross between a cucumber and a golfball. Such an easy vegetable to grow and I can’t seem to grow it??? So the detective in me began to come up with reasons why - it could be the acidity of the soil, or could be my companion planting was not right, or maybe not enough sun or water – turns out, the cucumber plants are not being properly pollinated!
Yikes! Right here in my own back yard I don’t have enough bees to pollinate my own cucumbers!
Cosmos, marigolds and a sunflower from my garden...
I set out to make my backyard and garden to “bee-friendly” to the bees! Every year I plant flowering herbs and flowers in my yard and garden. I do not use chemicals or pesticides of any kind, anywhere in my yard or garden and I keep a little bowl of fresh water for them – in case they show up and need a drink for all of their hard work and tireless efforts.
Ron Mills, my “uncle –in –law”, has been a bee keeper for years and years. I never really saw the attraction to wanting to have a bee hive of my own until now. I am thinking very seriously about starting my own little hive this Spring and Uncle Ron is a great source of information and inspiration! I am somewhat apprehensive but I know if I put my mind to it…I can also add “bee keeper” to my own resume.
If you are interested, here are some other ways you can help our honey bees and bumble bees.
A bumble bee enjoying the creeping phlox in my yard...
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” Robert J. Collier