Me and My Bees: Creating a Bee Friendly Home

I’ve actively been trying to replenish the bee population, one flower at a time. I take the problem with our disappearing bee population and all pollinators personally. If I don’t’ do something to help, the colony collapse will be my fault.
Now, I have to admit that my efforts are also selfish as I have fruit trees that rely on pollinators to set fruit. Without the pollinators, my trees will be fruitless.

It’s a big problem for many reasons, but in particular, I love to can my fruit and make fresh fruit pies.
No bees, no fruit, no jams and no pies.

All pollinators are at risk

Pollinators pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90 percent of the world. Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops. That’s only the start. We could be at risk of losing all the plants that bees pollinate, all of the animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain.

There are more than just honey bees and bumble bees in the world. In fact, there are almost 20,000 known species of bees in the world. About 3,500 live in the United States, and in Minnesota, there are probably close to 400. Not even 2 percent of these are honey bees and bumble bees. The other 98 percent are those other wild bees we’ve been talking about.

Going extinct

Honey bees are going extinct because of excessive use of pesticides in crops and certain blood-sucking parasites that only reproduce in bee colonies. It’s true that the extinction of bees would mean the end of humanity.
How do pollinators affect your life?

Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, you can thank a pollinator. Pollinators are birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees.

Great Sunflower Project

People all over the country are collecting data on pollinators in their yards, gardens, schools, and parks. Along with the Sunflower project, people are taking counts of the number and types of pollinators visiting plants (especially sunflowers). The project has been gathering information on pollinator service since 2008, and now have the largest single body of information about bee pollinator service in North America. Thanks to thousands of observers, they can determine where pollinator service is strong or weak compared to averages. It’s loads of fun and a great school project as well.

How to help bees survive pesticides and create a bee-friendly environment

Check out this list of the garden sprays that contain insect killing pesticides, in particular, neonicotinoids.
Alternatively, there are many remedies that will protect your plants from pesticides, such as spraying with Copper Sulfate, which is natural, kills fire blight and many other harmful diseases without harming pollinators. I’ve been using it in my garden for years with the blessing of my horticulturist.

In addition to keeping your garden pesticide free, there are several easy things you can do to make your garden habitat friendly:

Did you know bees need water just like all organisms? You don’t have to set up a full-on bird feeder. Just a small dish of fresh water somewhere near your flowers will do.

Most bees (between 60 and 70%) dig burrows in the ground. Also, did you know bees a place to burrow to make a home? Locate a place near your flowers that is natural, and un-manicured. Bees prefer dry, sandy soil bare of vegetation. You can attract ground-nesting bees simply by making sure to leave some spots of exposed, undisturbed soil in your yard.

It really doesn’t take much effort to attract bees and make them feel at home in your yard. Just relax and let them do their thing. As you long as you don’t create havoc around them, they are happy to leave you alone. There is great satisfaction in helping our struggling bee population. If you didn’t think your contribution matters, it does. Believe. One more bee is one more bee to pollinate that apple that you like so much.

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